COVID-19 Symptom: Dry Mouth
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
- Dry mouth is usually an early symptom of COVID-19
- There can be several other possible causes of dry mouth during your COVID illness, including dehydration and certain medications
- Dry mouth due to COVID-19 gradually subsides within a few days to a few weeks
- You can get relieved of dry mouth easily at home
A dry mouth may be one of the possible frequent and early signs of a coronavirus infection. Together with respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological symptoms, it’s one of the frequent signs of coronavirus. Luckily, this symptom is less severe than others and usually goes away on its own. Apart from that, there are several actions you can take to make your mouth moist again.
What is a dry mouth with COVID-19 like?
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition where there’s a decrease in the production of saliva in the mouth. A dry mouth due to COVID-19 is considered one of the common and early symptoms of an infection with the coronavirus. The coronavirus mainly affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological systems. Still, symptoms of infection can also manifest themselves in the oral and olfactory system, which are the structures that serve the sense of smell, as well as on the skin. Researchers believe the coronavirus can bind to ACE2 receptors. These receptors are present in many different systems throughout the body, such as the lungs and the intestines. The mouth is also one of the locations with an abundance of ACE2 receptors, which is why some studies suggest that it’s one of the primary locations for the virus to enter the cells. 1 2 3
Since the lining of the mouth and the tongue contain ACE2 receptors, COVID-19 can cause various symptoms here, such as a decreased sense of taste, lesions on the tongue, or a metallic taste. A dry mouth and COVID are related as these receptors can also be found in the glands that secrete saliva. Studies even suggest that the salivary glands are one of the first targets of the coronavirus. Once the virus enters the cells of the salivary glands, it affects their function and decreases saliva production, which causes a dry mouth. 1 2 4
How long does a dry mouth last?
Studies suggest that a dry mouth due to COVID-19 often presents itself before other symptoms of the infection. This way, a dry mouth can be one of the early indicators of a COVID-19 infection. In other cases, a dry mouth presents itself with other symptoms of COVID-19, or 1 to 2 days after the onset of other symptoms. A dry mouth usually disappears gradually after a few days to a few weeks and mainly only causes discomfort. If your dry mouth persists after COVID, then you should contact your general practitioner for monitoring and treatment. 2 5
Is my dry mouth due to COVID-19?
A dry mouth can have many causes besides an infection with the coronavirus, such as: 2 6
- Certain medicines
- Sleeping with your mouth open
- A fungal infection of the mouth called oral thrush
- Certain conditions, such as type 1 diabetes, hyperthyroidism, renal failure, and HIV
Getting tested for COVID-19 and taking into account any other symptoms you might experience can help indicate whether or not your dry mouth is due to an infection with the coronavirus.
How can you treat a dry mouth due to COVID?
A dry mouth due to COVID-19 usually goes away on its own without any treatment. You can, however, take some actions to reduce your discomfort, such as: 6
- Drinking plenty of water
- Cutting back on your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Avoiding smoking
- Using an alcohol-free mouthwash
- Sucking on ice cubes or chewing sugar-free sweets or gum.
A dry mouth may be one of the early indications of an infection with the coronavirus. It's, however, important to remember that various other conditions can also cause a dry mouth. If you're in doubt, your general practitioner can provide advice and possible treatment strategies.
Q: Is dry mouth a symptom of COVID?
A: A dry mouth is considered a possible symptom of an infection with the coronavirus, although it’s not necessarily present in all cases of COVID-19.
Q: Can you have a dry mouth after the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: In a small number of cases, a dry mouth may be a side-effect of the vaccine against COVID-19. If you develop a dry mouth days after your vaccination, you should also consider a possible infection with the coronavirus.
Q: How long does it take to get rid of dry mouth from COVID?
Dry mouth can be an early sign of a COVID-19 infection and may appear before other symptoms. Usually, a dry mouth goes away on its own over several days to a few weeks.
Q: What are oral symptoms of COVID-19?
Oral symptoms of COVID-19 can include dry mouth, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, and lesions or ulcers in the mouth.
Q: Why does COVID cause dry mouth?
Researchers believe that COVID-19 may affect the salivary glands, which are responsible for producing saliva. When the virus enters the cells of the salivary glands, it can decrease the production of saliva and lead to a dry mouth.
Q: What can you do about dry mouth from covid?
COVID-19-related dry mouth typically resolves without intervention. However, certain measures can alleviate discomfort, including drinking plenty of water, reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking, using an alcohol-free mouthwash, and sucking on ice cubes or chewing sugar-free gum.
Farid H. et al. (2022). Oral manifestations of COVID-19 - a literature review. Accessed on 28 August 2022.
Freni F. et al. (2020). Symptomatology in head and neck district in coronavirus disease (COVID-19): a possible neuroinvasive action of SARS-CoV-2. Accessed on 22 September 2022.
Dos Santos J. et al. (2021). Oral manifestations in patients with COVID-19: a 6-month update. Accessed on 28 August 2022.
Freni F. et al. (2020). Symptomatology in head and neck district in coronavirus disease (COVID-19): A possible neuroinvasive action of SARS-CoV-2. Accessed on 28 August 2022.
Fantozzi P. et al. (2020). Xerostomia, gustatory and olfactory dysfunctions in patients with COVID-19. Accessed on 28 August 2022.
NHS (2021). Dry mouth. Accessed on 28 August 2022.