Drug-Induced Dry Mouth Common Among Seniors Taking Certain Meds

Clinicians should regularly monitor and review all medications to identify potential side effects
Clinicians should regularly monitor and review all medications to identify potential side effects

Among older adults, dry mouth may be a common adverse effect of many medications that warrants regular monitoring, according to a systematic review published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

To evaluate the risk of drug-induced dry mouth as an adverse event among older patients, researchers conducted a systematic review and met-analysis. They searched Medline, Embase, Cochrane, Web of Science, and PubMed from 1990 to 2016 for patients aged ≥60 years enrolled in intervention or observational studies investigating drug use as an exposure and xerostomia or salivary gland hypofunction as an adverse event.  

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A total of 1,544 studies were identified, of which 52 met the inclusion criteria for the final review and 26 for the meta-analyses; most of the studies were deemed moderate quality.

The intervention studies showed urological treatments had the highest association with dry mouth (odds ratio [OR] 5.91, 95% CI: 4.04–8.63), followed by antidepressants (OR 4.74, 95% CI: 2.69–8.32) and psycholeptics (OR 2.59, 95% CI: 1.79–3.95) for insomnia and anxiety. The observational studies showed significant associations between various drugs and drug classes (eg, diuretics) and xerostomia as well as salivary gland hypofunction. 

The researchers concluded that medications used to treat urinary incontinence had nearly a 6-fold higher risk for dry mouth vs. placebo. "Future research should develop a risk score for medication-induced dry mouth to assist with prescribing and medication management," stated lead author Edwin CK Tan, PhD.

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