Managing swallowing problems due to dry mouth

People who have COPD often experience dry mouth. Dry mouth can be related to oxygen use (via a mask or nasal prongs), use of a CPAP machine, mouth breathing or medications.

Having a dry mouth is uncomfortable, can increase the risk of dental problems and can cause swallowing problems. To reduce dry mouth symptoms:

  • Sip fluids frequently throughout the day.
  • Always rinse and gargle after taking your medication or inhalers.
  • Use artificial saliva products (for example, Biotene® or Oralube®), available at your local pharmacy, or other oral lubricants (for example, grape seed oil flavoured with peppermint essence).
  • Suck sugar free lollies or chew sugar-free gum.
  • Avoid medicated lozenges or alcohol-based mouthwashes.
  • Reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods and avoid smoking.
  • Regularly brush your teeth and gums (or clean your dentures) to reduce bacteria build up in your mouth.
  • Have regular dental check-ups.
  • Talk to your GP about reviewing the medications you are taking.


To overcome difficulties with swallowing medications, try cutting or crushing your medications and mixing them with yoghurt, custard or jam before swallowing them.  However, as not all medications can be cut or crushed, you should always check with your GP or pharmacist first.