Menopause and dry mouth
If you are suffering from a parched mouth, cracked lips, or sore throat, it could be due to menopause. These might not seem like obvious menopause symptoms but they are quite common. Read on to find out why dry mouth during menopause happens, what helps and when to seek help.
DRY MOUTH DEFINITION
Dry mouth, known as xerostomia, is thought to be triggered by the decrease in oestrogen levels that happens during menopause. It can feel like a constant sore and dry feeling in your mouth and throat.
It’s also associated with a decrease in saliva production, and may be associated with burning mouth syndrome for some people, as well as dental complications like sensitive teeth, bad breath, and bleeding gums.
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HOW LIKELY IS DRY MOUTH DURING MENOPAUSE?
- We don’t know for certain as data is limited, although one older study found that 43% of those who are perimenopausal and menopausal reported oral discomfort
- Research shows that dry mouth occurs as a result of the declining oestrogen levels that occur during menopause. Reduced levels of oestrogen lead to a decrease in blood flow to salivary glands, less saliva production and therefore dry mouth
- Research draws a clear link between smoking and reduced rates of saliva production, increasing your risk of experiencing dry mouth
- Lifestyle choices can have an impact, for example, as drinking alcohol and caffeine can increase your chances of dry mouth
- Other disorders, like anxiety, can cause dry mouth. Read more about the link between menopause and anxiety here
- According to Healthline, more than 90% of dry mouth cases are caused by medication, such as antihistamines, antihypertensives, hormone medications, and bronchodilators. It is important not to stop any medications without talking to your doctor first
- Other medical treatments, including radiotherapy can also be a cause
Read more about the stages of menopause.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A DRY MOUTH?
A painful or dry sensation in the mouth
Sore throat or cracked lips
A persistent feeling of thirst
HOW TO HELP A DRY MOUTH
Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
Alcohol and caffeine can make dry mouth symptoms worse.
Studies show that long-term smoking affects your saliva production, which could potentially worsen dry mouth symptoms.
Breathe through your nose, not your mouth
That sounds like strange advice but according to Healthline, breathing through your mouth can make dry mouth worse. This is because airflow dries the delicate tissues of the mouth. Certain medical conditions can make it more difficult or even impossible to breathe through your nose. Talk to your doctor if you think this could be the case for you.
According to the NHS, dehydration is a contributing factor when it comes to dry mouth. Drinking plenty of water is key and can help to relieve mild dehydration that is associated with dry mouth.
Keep brushing and flossing your teeth – it can help combat the effects of dry mouth. Be sure to check in with your dentist regularly and flag any concerns at your appointments.
Try sugar-free sweets or chewing gum
These help stimulate production of saliva. You can also try sucking ice chips or partially frozen fruit, including melon and pineapple.
Look after your lips
Dry mouth can cause your lips to become cracked or uncomfortable. Regular use of petroleum jelly as a lip balm can help to keep the skin in good condition.
Would hormone replacement therapy (HRT) help?
However, it is not suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor if you would like to find out more about the best treatment for you.