Excess saliva

  • 8 replies
  • 133 subscribers

Hi I'm new here, my sister has just had surgery for tongue cancer, she's been told she is cancer free now but has to go through six weeks of radiotherapy. The problem is she has excessive saliva and it's really getting her down. All the speech therapist can advise is sucking through aNeutral face straw, not easy when you can't feel your lips, mouth or anything inside your mouth. Does anyone have any tips to help. I feel the hospital have just left us to it. GP will hopefully come up with something tomorrow but any tips would help. We've tried hyoscine patches.

  • Hi Debs. Has your sister asked why she has excess saliva. Is it too much saliva or a normal amount she can’t swallow? The two are quite different. If she can’t swallow it then the only thing she can do is keep wiping it away. 
    Has she had a reconstruction? If she has then the new bit of tongue is always bigger than the native one while swelling goes down. 
    When she starts radiotherapy it will dry her saliva up a lot for some time before things normalise a little later in in recovery. 

  • Hi, at first she didn't have as much saliva, could talk pretty clearly. She's able to swallow but the saliva is really thick she's getting now. Really hoping she starts the radiotherapy soon but she's now worried about lying flat etc. She spent another week in hospital with a chest infection and gastro bug they think. I'm not sure if that's the problem. It's so hard not being able to help her. She was fit and healthy before this. She's had a reconstruction of about two thirds of her tongue and it's all very numb. I think she's worrying a lot about everything so not sure if that's exacerbating things. It's such a massive life altering cancer. It's reassuring to know that things should get better. I just feel that once the surgeons have done their bit you are left to it. I guess it's early days, it's only been a month. I've been reading your blog but will read a bit more. 

  • Oh Debs I’m so sorry. My blog won’t really help much as I didn’t have a glossectomy and my RT would be targeted differently. 
    Have you looked at joining Young Tongues. They are made up of lots of patients just like your partner and have a very active social media presence 
    I have a friend I met here and I’ve known her for around three years. She has coped with something very similar and coped very well. She’s not often here as she is in young tongues more but I’ll tag her and she might pop on  


  • Thank you I'll have a look. 

  • Hi Debs,

    i had 30 radio plus chemo. I am almost year after the treatment and i can say pls suggest acupuncture to your sister. To me that was a saver really. I went privately and acupuncture has to be medically done by your team. Good luck to your sis, unfortunately it takes time, and hopefully she will find way. Maybe better to talk to her oncologist then GP Wink

    good luck

    marta x    

  • I had an operation on my tongue - although smaller than your sisters - last December followed by chemoradiation which started at the end of January.

    Although I didn’t have much saliva after the op I also had that feeling of too much saliva and feeling you’re choking at night. I tried sleeping propped up with pillows but then bought a foam wedge which really helped with the problem. I ses it throughout treatment. Now 4 months on after the end of treatment I’m sleeping on my side as normal with one pillow - so has definitely got better for me.

  • Thanks Marta I'll look into it if the radiotherapy makes no difference x

  • Hi there

    my husband had a total glossectomy and radical neck dissection in September 23 

    that was followed by 6 weeks of radiotherapy. He has carbocisteine 3 times a day and nebulisers we tried hyoscine patches but they didn’t work he is now 14 weeks post radiotherapy he still has thick secretions no we’re like he had at the beginning but they are still a problem. Hope everything goes ok