Paxil and Dry Mouth

by on July 31, 2012

Paxil (paroxetine) is an antidepressant that belongs to a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. It is known to cause a number of side effects, and one of the commonly reported is dry mouth.

What Studies Say

Clinical studies conducted before this medication was approved by the Food and Drug Administration has shown that up to 18 percent of people taking Paxil experienced dry mouth. This side effect was most commonly reported by people being treated for depression, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Meanwhile, dry mouth was less commonly reported by people taking Paxil for generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

It is not clear how paroxetine exactly causes dry mouth although it is suggested that it affects certain brain chemicals that regulate body fluids.

Compared to other SSRI’s particularly Lexapro (escitalopram) and Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil is more likely to cause dry mouth. However, unlike other antidepressant drugs, especially tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), that significantly affect the cholinergic system, paroxetine does not result in severe dryness of the mouth.

Managing Dry Mouth caused by Paxil

If you are taking Paxil (paroxetine) and develop dry mouth, you should consult your healthcare provider for specific recommendations. However, there are a number of things that can help you manage this side effect.

  • You can try sipping water or sugarless drinks more often and at meals. This does not only wet your mouth but will also help make chewing and swallowing much easier.
  • For some patients, dry mouth is often accompanied by impairment in the sense of taste. Sipping water more frequently while eating can help improve taste of food.
  • Caffeine can contribute to the dryness of the mouth. It is suggested that you avoid drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea.
  • Similarly, tobacco and alcohol can also cause dry mouth hence should also be avoided.
  • Using humidifier at bedtime or at workspace can also help provide moisture to the oral cavity.
  • Avoid eating spicy or salty foods as they can cause pain in a dry mouth.
  • You can try chewing or sucking on sugarless gum or hard candy, which can stimulate the production of saliva.

If these suggestions do not help, be sure to consult your healthcare provider for specific recommendations. Your healthcare provider may recommend using other treatment options such as artificial saliva. In case of severe dry mouth that is accompanied by other symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend adjusting your dose or switching to other medications.