Many malignant mesothelioma patients get “dry mouth syndrome,” a set of symptoms that often develop in patients who have undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery — all of which are frequently used as treatment for peritoneal, pleural or pericardial mesothelioma. The use of pain relievers, cancer medications, and tranquilizers can also cause dry mouth. Thus, it’s rather likely that an individual receiving medical care for mesothelioma will experience serious dry mouth symptoms at some point in his or her treatment.
Tips for Dealing with Dry Mouth Mesothelioma
If mesothelioma dry mouth syndrome has befallen you or your family member, there are a number of things that you can do to minimize and relieve such symptoms, including:
- drink a lot of fluids, and keep water and other beverage on hand at all times
- avoid beverages and meals with high sugar content and those that could produce dry mouth and nausea
- control the tendency toward anorexia
- maintain good nutrition; a mesothelioma patient should follow an appropriate ‘cancer diet’ with enough protein
- suck on ice chips; chew sugarless gum
- maintain good oral hygiene — brush teeth and mouth well after each meal and at bedtime
- rinse the mouth with a dental rinse right after meals; avoid rinses that contain alcohol
- denture wearers should brush and rinse the dentures after each meal
- keep the ambient room air humid
- use lip balm to keep lips and surrounding area moist
The only FDA-approved mesothelioma dry mouth medication for stimulating artificial saliva secretion is pilocarpine (Salagen). Dry mouth syndrome can also be caused by diseases other than mesothelioma; ask your doctor about pilocarpine if your dry mouth symptoms cannot be controlled by the above measures.
Damage to Saliva Glands
“Xerostomia” (ZEER-oh-STOH-mee-ah), the medical term for dry mouth, is very common after radiation treatment, since the radiation can damage the body’s ability to produce saliva. The saliva glands in the mouth can be severely affected by cancer treatments, including those commonly used for mesothelioma classified as:
- peritoneal mesothelioma
- pleural mesothelioma — the most frequent diagnosis
- pericardial mesothelioma
Difficulty Swallowing, Eating
If the symptoms of dry mouth are severe enough, they can have a very detrimental effect on a patient’s diet, nutrition, treatment, and quality of life. Patients may have trouble swallowing food and liquid, and since cancer/mesothelioma treatment can also result in a severe lack of appetite, patients are at risk of developing anorexia during and after treatment. The xerostomia may also affect an individual’s ability to taste food and to speak properly.
Contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers for Help
If you or someone you love is suffering from mesothelioma-caused dry mouth syndrome, please contact the Mesothelioma Treatment Center today. We can provide you with a series of helpful resources.