Today at A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about dry mouth and how to help yourself in the menopause.
Is dry mouth a symptom of the menopause?
Yes, it can be. It's one of these surprising symptoms that very often isn't linked to the menopause. On the whole, it's caused by the hormonal changes experienced at this time. The mouth is one of our mucous membranes in the body, just like the vagina, the digestive tract, the bladder, the lungs, and the eyes.
These can start to dry out in the menopause because of low oestrogen levels. It can also affect the gums. Some women find that their gums will start to bleed much more easily, or that they start to recede. Other women sometimes find that it can affect their tongue too.
So, between all of these, dry mouth can cause some really uncomfortable symptoms during the menopause that can sometimes be difficult to resolve.
Menopause dry mouth symptoms
So, what can happen here? The symptoms would be things like a burning mouth. You might find that your mouth just feels like it's on fire the whole time, regardless of what you do.
You might find that you've got a dry, sore, or sticky mouth, just in general. You might find that you have increased thirst because of this. Some women find that they get sores, or cracked lips, or very dry lips. You can get a dry, sore tongue. You might find that you're having problems speaking. You want to go and say something, and you find that your tongue just basically sticks to the roof of your mouth.
You might find that you're having difficulty tasting or chewing food, or even swallowing. You might find that you've got some bad breath and, of course, all of these can increase the risk of things like tooth decay and receding gums, too.
So, this is quite a big picture. Most women who have this will have a combination of some of these particular symptoms.
How do you get rid of dry mouth?
So, how can you help with this?
Well, guess what number one is. Loads of water! Mucous membranes need a lot of water in order to stay moist. So, this is the number one treatment.
Get lots of water into you on a daily basis. You can look at increasing water-filled vegetables in your diet, so that would be lots of salad vegetables, like cucumber or lettuce, and fruits. These can all help to increase the amount of water that you're taking into your daily diet.
You can look at ginger. Ginger is a lovely herb for stimulating saliva, so some people find that just chewing a little bit of root ginger can be very beneficial, or having a couple of cups of ginger tea on a daily basis can help as well. If you're chewing ginger regularly, try not to go for the preserved ginger. This tends to be wrapped up in a lot of sugar or syrup and, obviously, that's not going to be particularly good for you.
Get a check-up
A dry mouth can be due to blocked salivary ducts and there can be very specific reasons for this to occur. So, if you're getting a dry mouth, just to go and see your dentist.
Sea buckthorn oil
This is a fabulous remedy for all dryness in the menopause and it can work really well for a dry mouth.
If this is happening as your periods are starting to tail off, or they've stopped, you could look at our Menopause Support remedy, This can help to just very gently raise and balance your oestrogen levels.
Things to avoid
You need to avoid certain things and, unfortunately, it tends to be the things that we enjoy, such as caffeine, your high salt and sugar foods, alcohol, and spicy foods.
These can all affect the mouth quite a lot, so it's probably best to avoid these until you find that you're getting some improvement with the mouth as well. Avoid dry foods because, again, if you have a dry mouth, you're not producing a lot of saliva and these dry foods (like crackers, bread, and pasta) can all make it much more difficult.
Then, if you get a really dry mouth, you can find it difficult to swallow. And, if you keep eating dry foods, you can actually end up irritating the throat, which may then cause a sore throat to develop.
Look at your medication
You could look at medication. Some medications can cause a dry mouth, so if you find that you've recently started something that you've been prescribed, then just check the patient information leaflet here, too.
Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol
Mouthwashes – most of them contain alcohol and that can make a dry mouth worse. So, if you use a mouthwash on a regular basis, then maybe check with your local health food shop to see if they do alcohol-free ones.
Try a natural toothpaste
The majority of toothpaste that you get contain loads of chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan and all sorts of other things, too. This means that they can easily affect the mouth and gums. In this situation, going for a natural toothpaste without any of these nasty chemicals can make a real difference.
What to be aware of
Now, just two other things to be aware of. If you are getting a dry mouth and your eyes are getting dry as well, this could be something called Sjogren's Syndrome.
This is an autoimmune condition, so just get this checked out by your doctor first before you start any of these remedies because it's best to get a proper diagnosis.
The other thing that can happen is that if the amount of saliva in your mouth is reduced, this can have a big impact on your digestion. You might find that the dry mouth ends up being linked with indigestion, burping, wind, gastric reflux. If this is the case, we have a super remedy called Centaurium which is a bitter.
Bitters can be really helpful for stimulating digestion, so it could be a good idea to add this one in as well if you're getting a combination of dry mouth and things like indigestion.
Does dry mouth go away after menopause?
One of the things that I am asked on a regular basis is, "Does this go away after the menopause?"
This is one of these questions that I can't answer. For some women, once their oestrogen starts to balance and the body is feeling better, then the symptoms will go away. For other women, it might remain, but the thing here is the more you do to try and resolve this as soon as it happens, then the less likely it's going to continue for right through the menopause and afterwards.
So, I hope you found this one interesting. As I say, it doesn't seem to be a particularly well-known menopause symptom, but we do know that a lot of women can suffer from this in some way.