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Clin Otolaryngol. 2009 Aug;34(4):358-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-4486.2009.01930.x.

A patient with dry mouth.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.



Xerostomia is a common symptom among patients referred to ENT clinics. We present an evidence-based approach in a patient complaining of xerostomia who has not been exposed to radiotherapy. METHOD (search strategy): This review was based on a literature search last performed on 1 July 2008. MEDLINE and EMBASE databases and the Cochrane Library were searched using the subject headings dry mouth, hyposalivation and xerostomia in combination with diagnosis, therapy and surgery. Results were limited to English language articles including clinical trials, randomised controlled trials, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, review articles and human studies. Relevant references from selected articles were reviewed.


Xerostomia is not synonymous with hyposalivation. Effective management covers symptomatic relief with selected saliva substitutes, sialogogic agents, addressing underlying dental complications and oral infections, and review of prescribed medication.


Xerostomia is a common symptom for a wide range of triggering factors, but the treatment is largely palliative and preventative in nature.

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