Dryness of mouth in PACU


I am trying to gather evidence/literature that lemon glycerine swabs in PACU are not helping the patients relieve their dry mouths. Any suggestions? Thank you.

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dianah, ASN

9 Articles; 3,701 Posts

Specializes in RETIRED Cath Lab/Cardiology/Radiology. Has 48 years experience.

I did a brief google search and came up with this article:


Mentions use of lemon-glycerine swabs potentially contributing to dry mouth, as the glycerine dehydrates (article is written in context of supportive care for people undergoing rad. and chemotx).

I have no direct experience to contribute, hope someone is able/willing to chime in to help.

Good luck! :)


4 Articles; 846 Posts

Specializes in Med surg, Critical Care, LTC. Has 20 years experience.

We use those pink, minty swabs. I was surprised that when I read the ingredients listed on the swab, "mannitol" was one of the ingredients.

I believe in ice chips, I used them sparingly, but they really help the patient to be more comfortable. I've also found I need less pain medication if patients are perceiving our attempts at distraction and making them more comfortable. :twocents:


278 Posts

We just pulled all the lemon swabs I guess because of this article - but I couldn't find anything about it in the linked article.

Now we just use the pink sponge swabs dipped in ice water. Then, we graduate to ice chips. I think a lot of the patients disliked the lemon swabs - they tasted kind of funky anyway.


9 Posts

We use ice chips and graduate to sips of water. This seems to work well.


155 Posts

Specializes in PACU,Trauma ICU,CVICU,Med-Surg,EENT. Has 31 years experience.

I can't see Lemon-Glycerin swabs helping when even sips of cold water don't help - it just takes time - most of our pts are given Atropine in the early intraop phase to reduce oral secretions,leaving them with an intensely dry mouth when they wake up in PACU


4 Articles; 846 Posts

Specializes in Med surg, Critical Care, LTC. Has 20 years experience.

Narcotics also add to the dry mouth! :twocents:


107 Posts

Specializes in Surgical Telemetry.

I wish I had the exact resources but I fought this at the surgical hospital I recently left because I had read varying reports that these swabs do contribute to dry mouth and are damaging to the mucosa. When I would find them on the unit I would get rid of them because of that. And also because we dealt with healthy post-surgical patients who should be drinking fluids anyway.


18 Posts

We never use these. I didn't even know they still made them! We use the green foam swabs and dip them in H2O.

If they are awake enough we use ice chips.

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