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Dry mouth and pain medications

Posts: 227
Joined: Apr 2012

Since a common side effect of the most frequently prescribed pain medications such as Vicodin (lortab/hydroco) and Percoset (Oxycodo) is a dry mouth, has anyone experimented with alternatives to see how it might impact the loss of saliva?

I had a lung biopsy a year ago (fortunately not a cancer issue) and was prescribed hydroco/apap 7.5-500, the same stuff I have for my BOT, and had a horrible dry mouth experience. It cleared up as I improved and was able to get off the prescription pain med, and now that I have the dry mouth from rads, I wonder how much the meds side effect contributes to my current situation. Sure, the effects of radiation are probably so much stronger than the side effect of the med, but does it contribute to the condition?

I'm wondering what effect a change to an OTC or non opiate medication may have on my extremely dry mouth.

I'm working on getting off the Lortab and using an OTC just to see what happens, and I'm wondering if any of you had any information to offer.

Thanks for your input, I can't tell you all how much it has helped to be part of these boards and just read the caring words that so many of you share.


blackswampboy's picture
Posts: 341
Joined: Jul 2012

well...I haven't had a prescription pain med since they put in my chemo port and PEG (May), and my mouth is dry like the gobi desert. the rads did that all by themselves. I still take the occasional acetaminophen.
but you could be on to something.

Posts: 1829
Joined: May 2012

I think with everything including surgery, treatments and pain meds all contribute to the darn dry mouth issues. If you can go without and use a oc fantastic ! But I'm not sure if this will resolve the issue. If it does PLEASE let us know. But saying this I myself tried to back off the pain meds too soon. Which made a bad situation worse. And for me it did not help with the dry mouth. I hope it works for you ! Warmest wishes sent, Katie

Billie67's picture
Posts: 834
Joined: Jul 2012

In my case when I switched to OC drugs it did seem to help a bit with saliva. Not a lot but a bit. Make sure tho that you switch only when you are ready and not too soon before then. I'd hate to see you make other things worse.
Good luck.

Kent Cass's picture
Kent Cass
Posts: 1746
Joined: Nov 2009

Not so sure pain meds have all that much of an impact on the dry mouth, as there's typically a lot of other things in play with tx, and diet changes, etc. Most of us it's an experimenting thing to see what works best, and try to get used-to the dry mouth- is with a lot of us for quite awhile.


Posts: 227
Joined: Apr 2012

Well, spent the last few days on a couple of ibuprofen every 4 hours instead of 1 tab of hydroco/apap 7.5/500 and while it had a very minor improvement in saliva, it was not worth the increase in pain numbers. I had hoped that it would result in at least enough to be able to not feel like I'd crossed the desert without the ability to breath through my nose, but such was not to be.

Thanks for your replies,


Posts: 125
Joined: Apr 2011

I had so much radiation that they killed my salava gland now i drink about 3/4 of a gallon of chocalate milk a day. Plus i am still on heavy duty pain meds. Everything except milk dries my mouth out.

Posts: 305
Joined: Mar 2012

I find that best help for dry mouth is biotene gel. It seems kinda gross but it really works for me, it gives me about 4-5 hours of sleep at night. During day time, it is less effective but i do use it if i wan to talk on the phone for a longer time. I rub it on both sides of my cheek and on my toungue.


phrannie51's picture
Posts: 3728
Joined: Mar 2012

and my mouth was a dry as sheet rock....I don't know how one would measure the "extra dryness" the use of pain meds might cause...I would have said leather tongue can't get dryer.


Posts: 227
Joined: Apr 2012

Sheetrock is in a class by itself, being a dog person I compared the dryness to a dog biscuit.

I picked up the Biotene rinse, toothpaste and spray and they do help with the dry mouth, still not normal, but I have noticed that there is some, it's just as thick as 400 weight gear oil on a below zero day in January.

I'm looking forward to it coming back.



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