Xerostomia is the subjective feeling of mouth dryness, caused or not by function lowering of salivary glands, with decrease of saliva quality or quantity.
It's a frequent symptom in palliative care patients and its prevalence is referred to be 60% to 88% in advanced and progressive oncological disease patients.
Saliva plays an important role in maintaining the best physiological conditions of mouth. Besides humidifying the oral cavity tissues, its lubricating properties help swallowing, talking and prevents other damages caused by mechanical and noxious microbiological agents.
Xerostomia is caused by factors:
- that compromise the salivary centre
- related to the autonomic stimulation
- related to salivary glands
The diagnosis is mainly clinical; mouth condition must be thoroughly evaluated.
1. The treatment must be oriented by a etiology and directed towards the disease effects in patient comfort and quality of life.
2. The use of xerogenic drugs should be controlled, hydration should be promoted and other symptom control measures improved.
3. A soft diet must be advised, hard and dry food, tobacco and alcoholic beverages should be avoided.
1. Increasing of saliva production by mechanical, gustatory or pharmacological stimulation
2. Suck (do not chew) on ice chips or popsicles.Can also chew sugarless gum.
3. Using of saliva substitutes and the improving of active mouth care.
4. Rinse the mouth with water and/or baking soda solution very frequently.
is the available drug to improve salivation.
6. Lubricate lips and corners of mouth with an unflavored lip balm.
Adapted from Feio M, Sapeta P. Xerostomia in palliative care. Acta Med Port 2005;18(6):459-65.