Thirst is a common, intense symptom reported by hospitalized patients. No studies indicate frequency of use of ice water and lip moisturizer with menthol to ameliorate thirst and dry mouth. In an audit of 30 intensive care unit patients at a 580-bed community teaching hospital, 66% reported dry mouth with higher thirst distress and intensity scores than in published studies.
To evaluate the effectiveness of scheduled use of ice water oral swabs and lip moisturizer with menthol compared with unscheduled use in relieving thirst and dry mouth for intensive care unit patients.
In a quasi-experimental design, adult patients admitted to 2 intensive care units at a community hospital were provided with ice water oral swabs and lip moisturizer with menthol upon request. The intervention was unscheduled in 1 unit and scheduled in the other unit. The scheduled intervention was provided hourly during a 7-hour period (n = 62 participants). The unscheduled intervention consisted of usual care (n = 41 participants). A numeric rating scale (0-10) was used to measure thirst intensity, thirst distress, and dry mouth before and after 7 hours in both groups.
The scheduled-use group had significant lessening of thirst intensity (P = .02) and dry mouth (P = .008). Thirst distress in the scheduled-use group did not differ from that in the unscheduled-use group (P = .07).
Scheduled use of ice water oral swabs and lip moisturizer with menthol may lessen thirst intensity and dry mouth in critical care patients.