Using oxygen regularly often leads to discomfort when the oxygen causes your mouth to dry out and throat to feel tight. One quick way to reduce these sensations is to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth. Use nasal lubricants to keep your nose from drying out, and you’ll avoid a tight throat. Here are some other ways to prevent a dry mouth and throat from oxygen therapy.
Symptoms and Risks
If you breathe through your mouth, your saliva could dry up, causing xerostomia (a fancy way to say “dry mouth”). Although you may think the risks go no further than a sore throat and a scratchy voice, dry mouth left untreated can lead to tooth decay, as well as mouth and gum infections. The reason for this is a lack of saliva, which usually helps fight bacterial build-up.
For people who mainly breathe through their nose without using nasal lubricants, nosebleeds are a possibility. If you bump the nasal cannula during use, you may notice a nosebleed if the cannula breaks the delicate inner-nose skin.
You can equip many oxygen concentrators with a humidifier bottle to reduce dryness—ensure you speak with your doctor to learn if you can use one. If your unit is incompatible, consider acquiring a humidifier for your home. Increasing the moisture in the air goes a long way toward keeping your mouth, nose, and throat lubricated.
The most beneficial thing you can do to encourage proper moisture levels is to stay hydrated. One general rule for water intake is to consume half your body weight in ounces, so if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water. Proper hydration leads to healthy saliva production, which can combat dry mouth.
Now that you know several ways to prevent a dry mouth and throat from oxygen therapy, ask your doctor what oxygen concentrator equipment is right for you. Breathing easily doesn’t have to cause side effects, so stay hydrated, use lubricants, and run that humidifier!