Pilocarpine adds to the range of treatment options in xerostomia

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IN BRIEFOral pilocarpine has demonstrated the ability to promote salivary secretion and relieve the subjective symptoms of xerostomia (dry mouth) in placebo-controlled trials. As such, it represents a welcome addition to the range of options available to patients with xerostomia secondary to irradiation for head and neck cancer.In addition, there is preliminary evidence that oral pilocarpine may be able to reduce the severity of xerostomia if administered throughout the course of radiotherapy.The majority of patients receiving oral pilocarpine for the treatment of xerostomia experience adverse effects, but these are generally mild and tolerable. The most prevalent adverse effect is sweating. Other adverse effects, that are probably related to the cholinergic activity of pilocarpine, include chills, dizziness, rhinitis, flushing, urinary frequency and gastrointestinal disturbances.

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