If you suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you're likely use at least one inhaler to control the symptoms. COPD, whether it’s in the form of emphysema, chronic bronchitis or asthma, can make it difficult to breathe. Your inhalers can ease your symptoms. Unfortunately, some of the inhaler medications used for COPD can cause Dry Mouth.
What are the symptoms of Dry Mouth?
Dry Mouth, or xerostomia, is a common condition affecting up to 1 in 5 adults in the USA. Contrary to common perception, Dry Mouth doesn’t just mean you need to drink more water. It happens when your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva to stay hydrated. The signs of Dry Mouth are thirst, but also more serious and uncomfortable symptoms can occur.
Dry Mouth can make speaking more difficult. It can cause soreness in your mouth and make it harder to eat and swallow. Having a dry mouth can also disturb your sleep, as you might wake repeatedly to sip water throughout the night. It can also affect your taste buds and can even cause painful oral fissures and mouth ulcers. Some of these symptoms are painful and others, like bad breath, can damage your self-confidence.
How do COPD inhalers cause Dry Mouth?
COPD inhalers typically contain either a corticosteroid, an anticholinergic or a beta-2 agonist. All three types of medications are known to be associated with Dry Mouth. This happens in three ways. First, the medicine isn’t all inhaled into the lungs, and what’s left stays in the mouth, where it can have a drying effect on oral tissues. Second, beta-2 agonists suppress saliva production by around 30%. Finally, a common side effect of corticosteroid inhalers is oral thrush or candidiasis. Thrush is a yeast infection, characterized by white patches in your mouth and throat. It can cause soreness, pain when eating or swallowing and cracking at the corners of your mouth. Thrush is linked to reduced saliva production, which can cause Dry Mouth or exacerbate an existing condition.
Easy home remedies for COPD inhaler-related Dry Mouth
Controlling your COPD is already a challenge, so you don’t need Dry Mouth to contend with as well. Fortunately, there are easy ways that can help reduce its impact on your daily life.
- Try using a spacer with your inhaler, if your doctor advises it. This gives the medicine more time to vaporize, helping you breathe more of it in. That means less remains in your mouth, reducing any drying effect on oral tissues.
- Rinse your mouth and throat after each inhaler use. Choose a moisturizing oral rinse formulated specifically for Dry Mouth. There are also special sprays and/or lozenges to keep your mouth moist on the go.
- Follow the manufacturer or prescribed directions for inhaler and nebulizer storage and maintenance. Keep them away from irritants like dust or cat hair. Keep them clean to avoid fungal growth that can cause candidiasis, or thrush, which is associated with Dry Mouth.
- Stick to a rigorous oral hygiene routine. Make sure you brush twice daily and floss once. Saliva helps fight plaque, so having less of it means you’re more susceptible to cavities and gingivitis.
You don’t let your COPD control your life, so take control of the side-effects your inhalers can have. Simply maintain good oral hygiene, care for your inhalers properly and enlist the help of some over-the-counter oral moisturizing products. You’ll see that these recommendations can help with the management of your COPD symptoms, as well as, helping with symptoms assisted with Dry Mouth.