Spit It Out!

After chemo and radiotherapy for neck cancer 7 years ago, I have managed to adapt fairly well to quite severe swallowing problems.

However, one of the most difficult side-effects I have had to tackle is a dry mouth, with a constant amount of thick, stringy saliva, which can build up to an extent where I feel physically sick. It’s not only distressing, it’s also embarrassing.

To cope with this, I took the advice of Macmillan Cancer Support and made up a concoction of sodium bicarbonate mouthwash. Add one teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate to 550ml (one pint) of cooled, boiled waterand swish it round your mouth, before spitting it out.

It’s not perfect – but, my goodness, it works for me. Thing is, you have to keep a bottle with you when eating out, but I’ve found that by taking a few slurps before a meal, it stops the sticky stuff from forming too much. (You can swallow it, if you are in company!)

If you don’t fancy the taste of sodium bicarb, you can settle for plain water. Just keep taking sips all the time. If you are able to taste food, taking frequent sips of water or sodium bicarb doesn’t affect the taste of the food – at least not in my case.

Doing this also lessens the strain of chewing and swallowing, which can get very tiring. But don’t do it with fizzy drinks, like cola. Doesn’t work! Be interested to hear your comments or other useful tips.

Mary Bishop-Pinn