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very dry throat

Posts: 1846
Joined: Aug 2010

My husband, Jim, is now almost two months post-treatment, radiation and chemo, for hypopharyngeal and base of tongue cancer. PET scan showed only residual activity at the site of the treatment, which was great to hear. This was a couple of weeks ago. An increasingly troublesome ear pain has caused him to move back onto morphine, still using the Fentanyl patches, too.

This week, Jim has been complaining of progressively drier mouth and throat. Using Biotene mouthwash, drops and spray and drinking LOTS of liquids.

At a follow-up ENT appointment Wednesday, the doctor discovered an area of necrotic tissue in his throat and some exposed jawbone. While he was startled to see the tissue, the doctor was quick to say the oncologist would need to let him know if this was normal or something to be worried about. Same thing with the jawbone: he, of course, deferred to the oncologist from whom we are now anticipating a phone call.

The ENT also told us Jim's dry mouth was likely the result of salivary glands which no longer function plus the effects of the radiation. The ropy mucous we've heard others describe is now also an issue for Jim, as with such a dry throat and mouth, he can neither move it up, nor down nor out without extrememe difficulty.

Long story, but Jim's real question is this: is it possible the dry throat and mouth could just now be occurring for Jim with the radiation as the cause? He has no real issues with this until the past week or so. This morning, he had difficulty swallowing breakfast - this has not been an issue since he recovered from the initial biopsy.

Anybody else have these "later" symptoms appear?

Posts: 194
Joined: Aug 2010

Well I had saliva all through my radiation treatments and after 4 weeks of treatments ended that is when my saliva was little to none. When I went to see my radiation doctor last week he told me the dryness will be there but it will get better within 12 to 18 months. So its going to take awhile only thing I can tell you do so is make sure you drink alots of clear fluids or what you can do is get some mouth stuff like stoppers 4 or something like that to keep your mouth/throat not to dry up. Also other thing you can try is acupuncture to get the saliva glands to work again it might take up to 24 or 48 treatments to see anything with saliva flow.

hawk711's picture
Posts: 566
Joined: Jan 2010

I had severe mucous at the end of radiation and had to order a suction machine to get it all out. It worked great, highly recommend, especially with such a dry throat.
The dry mouth started with me about a month after treatment and the mucous dryed up. I use Stoppers 4 all the time and it works for short stints. I also take a drug called EvoXac (sp) which is supposed to help the salivary glands produce saliva, not sure how well, but I take it anyway.
I am 6 mths post treatment and the dry mouth is still there, I can't eat anything without liquid at all except slippery stuff, like yogurt, pudding, etc.
Keep up the fight, all the Dr's keep telling us the key is patience and more patience.
It is hard, but the saliva glands are basically killed off by the radiation and they have to regrow and some don't ever fix themselves. But it takes a long time to fix this issue I'm told.
Keep up the fight and keep positive, remember you went into this to beat cancers butt, and your doing just that.

Army_Guy's picture
Posts: 53
Joined: Oct 2010

My dry mouth also began about 3-4 weeks after treatment ended. I'm fortunate in that one of my salivary glands (the one opposite my tumor) was relocated and saved from radiation, but the dry mouth is still pretty bad. Like most everyone I use everything in the Biotene arsenal and drink lots of water. But something that works very well for me is Trident sugarless Tropical Twist gum. It is a citrus based gum and even though my taste buds for sweet have not yet come back, it doesn't taste bad. The important thing is that it generates saliva and relieves the dry mouth. Hope this helps.


Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

After my last treatment I lost almost all my salivary gland function, dry mouth & throat all the time. I could not eat could not sleep was always sipping water night and day, doc put me on some med’s but it did not work. My Wife found some stuff called Stoppers 4 and it was to me like a life savoir, I was able to sleep for 4 hours or more at night. About 6 months after that my salivary glands started working again, I still need water to eat with and I still use the Stoppers 4 at night but I am doing very well for someone who had radiation twice to the same area of the head and neck.

Jim body is more then likely still being affected by the treatment and things will change for the better and some for the worse, only time will tell. If you like to try the Stoppers 4 you can order it at www.drugstore.com I still use it but like I said only at night.

Take care

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