Welcome to the OutUK series looking at gay men and their health brought to you in association with the NHS website.
Each week we'll tackle a different topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We'll have features and advice on everything from relationships, sexual health, mental and physical conditions and how to stay fit. You can follow any of links provided below for more information direct from the NHS website, or view any of our Previous A to Z Features.
You should also know that OutUK has produced a special report about: Coronavirus Covid-19.

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This Week - D : Dry Mouth

A dry mouth is rarely a sign of anything serious. There are things you can do to help ease it yourself. See a GP if these do not work or you also have other symptoms.

Causes of a dry mouth

The main causes of a dry mouth are:

  • dehydration - for example, from not drinking enough, sweating a lot or being ill
  • medicines - check the leaflet that comes with your medicine to see if dry mouth is a side effect
  • breathing through your mouth at night - this can happen if you have a blocked nose or you sleep with your mouth open
  • anxiety
  • cancer treatment (radiotherapy or chemotherapy)
  • oral thrush (mouth thrush)

Sometimes a dry mouth that does not go away may be caused by a condition like diabetes or Sjogren's syndrome.

How to help ease a dry mouth yourself


  • drink plenty of cold water - take regular sips during the day and keep some water by your bed at night

  • suck on ice cubes or ice lollies

  • sip on cold unsweetened drinks

  • chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free sweets

  • use lip balm if your lips are also dry

  • brush your teeth twice a day and use alcohol-free mouthwash - you're more likely to get tooth decay if you have a dry mouth


  • do not drink lots of alcohol, caffeine (such as tea and coffee) or fizzy drinks

  • do not eat foods that are acidic (like lemons), spicy, salty or sugary

  • do not smoke

  • do not sleep with dentures in

  • do not use acidic artificial saliva products if you have your own teeth

  • do not stop taking a prescribed medicine without getting medical advice first - even if you think it might be causing your symptoms

A pharmacist can help if you have a dry mouth

If you have a dry mouth, ask a pharmacist about treatments you can buy to help keep your mouth moist.

You can get:

  • gels
  • sprays
  • tablets or lozenges

Not all products are suitable for everyone. Ask a pharmacist for advice about the best one for you.

If your dry mouth might be caused by a blocked nose, a pharmacist may suggest decongestants to unblock it.

See a GP if:

You have a dry mouth and:

  • it makes it difficult when talking or eating
  • your mouth is still dry after trying home or pharmacy treatments for a few weeks
  • you're struggling to eat regularly
  • you're having problems with your sense of taste that are not going away
  • your mouth is painful, red, swollen or bleeding
  • you have sore white patches in your mouth
  • you think a prescribed medicine might be causing your dry mouth
  • you have other symptoms, like needing to pee a lot or dry eyes

The GP can check what the cause might be and recommend treatment for it.

A pharmacist may be able to suggest things to provide relief from your symptoms while you're waiting to talk to a GP.

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We'll have more information and advice next week on another topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We have covered many subjects in this series and you can catch up with all of our Previous A to Z Features.

If you want to find out more about this week's subject you can visit the Original article on the NHS website. If you are worried by any aspect of your health make sure you go and see your doctor or book an appointment at your local clinic.

Photos: LightFieldStudios and one of VladOrlov, Stockcube, darak77, ajr_images or rawpixel.com.


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