ISTANBUL—Thirst and dry mouth are highly prevalent in patients on hemodialysis (HD), according to data released at the 50th Congress of the European Renal Association-European Dialysis and Transplant Association.

Suetonia Palmer, MD, senior lecturer at the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, and colleagues elsewhere examined the prevalence of thirst and oral symptoms in adults on HD enrolled in the ongoing ORAL Diseases in Hemodialysis (ORAL-D) study. ORAL-D is a multinational cohort study of oral diseases in 4,500 consecutive adults treated with long-term HD in 75 outpatient clinics selected randomly from a collaborative dialysis network in Europe and South America.

At baseline, dental surgeons assessed the prevalence and characteristics of dental, periodontal, mucosal, and salivary disease in all participants. All patients completed questionnaires focusing on their oral hygiene habits and thirst.

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Overall, 38% of patients reported occasional use of candies for dry mouth sensation, 34% described difficulties in swallowing, and 53% needed to sip to aid swallowing. Additionally, 36% complained of dry mouth sensation and 50% had dry lips. The mean xerostomia inventory score was 21.14. Sixty two percent said they viewed thirst as a problem.

Thirst and xerostomia may be increased in HD patients because of reduced salivary and lacrimal secretion, intravascular volume changes, fluid-restriction, endocrine hormone abnormalities, and medication use, Dr. Palmer said.

The data also showed that nearly half of adults on hemodialysis do not  regularly seek dental care.