Oral and throat hydration; is there anything that can be done to provide moisture in the mouth and throat?


My father has had a feeding tube directly into his stomach per doctors care for a few months. He had a swallow test but did not pass. No oral food or water due to non ability to swallow. My fathers entire mouth is dried out even with the moistened mouth swabs. Is there anything that can be done to provide moisture in mouth and throat? His doctor/nurses say no. His entire mouth is dried out and he no longer is talking.

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Yes! There exists a product that is basically like a large Q-tip soaked with lemon. That can be put around his mouth. I actually used the product when I was coming out of a surgery one time and found it helpful, as my mouth was very dry.
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Reply to Llamalover47

Watching Dr Oz right now speaking with a doctor from The Voice Institute where super stars with voice issues have received help (Adelle, Julie Andrews etc). 

They discussed the benefits of hydration and a humidifier. The one they had on the show looked similar to a Keurig coffee maker.
Anyway, it was highly recommended for hydration of the vocal cords to use a humidifier so I assume this would help hydrate in general. 

They warned not to let the humidifier stay on with low to no water inside as it would be basically blowing (and breathing) fungus. No need for it to be hot steam. Just moisture in the air. 

I know your fathers problem is more than dehydrated vocal cords. My intention is to reinforce the idea of using a humidifier.

Have his doctor write an order for it. Otherwise the staff may not have the authority to provide this treatment.

If it makes him more comfortable that should be all that matters.
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Reply to 97yroldmom

My hubster uses Biotene available at Walmart and similar stores. He doesn't find it offensive
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Reply to KarenDon

Lanolin based lip balm is the best ever!!! RN
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Reply to Vasuna000

This could be called negligence....
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Reply to HolidayEnd

This must be such a traumatic experience for your family. I hope you're able to at least get some down time to offset the strain.

Thanks for the explanation; it helps put create more perspective. Just a few comments - there's not much I can offer otherwise.

1. Not being able to talk. My father was in this situation for months after he had been trached. Being unable to speak is so frustrating for everyone. I eventually took a thick piece of 8.5 x 11" paper, divided it into high priority to lower priority wants and needs, clipped it to a clipboard and left it with him to ask for what he needed.

Divided into squares, some were things like "cold, need blanket", or "hot", or "call daughter, when coming to visit?", "need urinal -STAT", and similar requests. It helped, but unfortunately the staff kept removing it from his bed and putting it where he couldn't reach it. They apparently didn't realize it was his only method of communication.

2. Humidifier: I would go above the staff, not to chide them but to get a higher level involved. Ask the DON or someone at a management level. You might want to request a meeting so you and your family can discuss the highest priority needs, such as the mouth dryness.

You could probably find a small humidifier that you could even bring up; I've gotten them for $30 to $40 in pharmacy departments at grocery stores or Home Depot or Lowes.

3. As to a cool rag in the mouth, I saw different protocols from the long term care hospital and the SNF. The SNF focused more on comfort, but there also were more aides there to help. I think the reason why a cool rag isn't put in his mouth is b/c of the possibility of aspiration, even a little bit of water could trickle down into his throat. And that could lead to aspiration pneumonia, which would add another layer of complication to the mix.

4. The condition of his mouth is disturbing. I'm glad it was addressed yesterday, but it does sound like some type of softening agent is needed. This is beyond me; I've never experienced that. But what does concern me is any bacteria that might be trapped in the residue/coating. Has a thrush or other infection been diagnosed?

5. I've gone beyond the staff and contacted doctors' offices directly. Don't feel shy in doing that. Most doctors these days will respond and be more aware that the family is heavily involved.

Personally, I WOULD contact the ENT and raise the issues you've raised here, such as the humidifier, coating in his mouth and potential damage from the dryness of his skin.

6. Beyond the medical issues, you might want to bring a portable CD player, or iPod or whatever you might have and play music softly for your father to help relax him. That's what I did for Dad, and it made a big difference in anxiety level.

I wish I could offer more insight, but some of these conditions are ones with which I have no experience, and therefore have nothing to offer.

Sending best wishes for relief, comfort and calm for you and your family.
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Reply to GardenArtist

My mother had this issue. She had a hemorrhagic stroke, a stroke from a bleed in the brain. Initially she could eat puréed foods but it wasn’t long before she failed a swallow test and had the feeding tube placed and became completely NPO. The dry mouth was a constant issue. We used a wet washcloth to wipe out her mouth as there was often a buildup of white gooey stuff that she’d sometimes gag on if it got bad. We used moistened mouth swabs, lip balm, and Biotene as well. It was just awful to watch, no great solutions and a constant issue to take care of.
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Reply to Daughterof1930

Hello... See if Biotene can be used. It's a mouth moisturizer and it comes in either a spray form or can use a swab application.
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Reply to babyon200609

Please let us know how things go for him..

I send you hugs and strength.

Remember to take care of yourself too. You will be no good to anyone if you are also ill.
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Reply to BuzzyBee

Thank you everyone for your support and information. I should have been more descriptive but it was late when I posted by question. I've had sleepless nights for the past 3 months. My father (76) suffered a severe brain bleed and had to get a drastic life saving skull/brain surgery having him in a scary state physically and mentally. He also has a stage 4 wound on his tailbone. They believe he suffered 35-40% brain damage. In and out of rehab / hospital due to fevers and pneumonia. He had a feeding tube through his mouth for 1 month. They started speech therapy but he could not stay awake or follow commands well. He was able to communicate slightly but with a faint whisper but now that has stopped. He does still very slight nod his head but you have to watch close. They inserted a pic food line into his stomach and he has had nothing orally not even a swish and spit. We only could do the swaps around his mouth but he must be having his food/phlegm backing up into his mouth. I see huge amounts of hard shell like coating all in his mouth/lips. I tried to get it out as much as I can but he bleeds as well. I noticed on the roof of his mouth is horrible and scary. It looks like large dry tree bark chunks in his mouth hard like a shell. I've asked the staff to do oral care every two hours when they change his position. I don't believe its been happening. I asked for them to see an ENT specialist and now I am waiting for that. Yesterday, the facility doctor and head floor nurse worked on him to removed a lot of it out of his mouth & I believe throat (his wife told me). I was hoping to the ENT specialist to do it yesterday so they could see the extent of it and guide the facility/staff to prevent this from happening. It must be so unbearable for my dad. His wife told me they are going to give him a type of biotene rx for his mouth. I've been stressing he needs a humidifier running 24/7 but I don't believe its there. I feel hopeless. I don't understand why they can't put a cool moisten rag in his mouth to give him relief. Even drop lets of water? I can't see him choking on that. I asked for tiny ice chips but they won't do it. I just dont understand. If he was coughing up phlegm he could push out a droplet of water, right? What to do? They are only focusing on the nutrition to help the wound and put weight back on him. He is beyond bone thin but his comfort is just as important. If he could ever talk again, I feel that there may be damage to his throat and vocal cords from no moisture. 
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Reply to Mydadcare