Chemotherapy Mouth Sores
Chemotherapy mouth sores are painful and cause a lot of discomfort especially while eating. They vary from causing discomfort to severe complications that could force a patient to stop the treatment.
Chemotherapy mouth sores are ulcers formed on the inner lining of the mouth or the mucous membranes. They pain and cause discomfort while eating, talking, breathing, and swallowing. They appear on the soft tissue of the gums, lips or roof of the mouth and spread to the esophagus.
This happens because chemotherapy damages healthy fast growing cells along with the cancer cells.
Damage to the mucosal cells leads to other infections, like, difficulty in self-healing and dry mouth. This infection also occurs due to the reduction in the number of white blood cells.
Thrush or candidiasis is a very common fungal infection, which appears as white patches in the mouth. It is cured by anti fungal medications. Chemotherapy causes dry mouth and bleeding gums.
Some of the chemotherapy drugs that usually cause mouth sores are-
- Capecitabine (Xeloda)
- Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
Treatment to Manage Chemotherapy Mouth Sores
An oral assessment, given by your doctor, is helpful in deciding which cancer treatment should be prescribed if your mouth becomes sore. The doctor depending upon the cause of mouth sores and health of the patient could recommend the following options.
Mouthwashes: Inflammation and ulceration can often be eased by using a recommended alcohol free mouthwash. Saline and sodium bicarbonate mouthwashes are generally recommended to use three to four times a day.
Protective gels: Oral gels could be prescribed to apply topically. They ease the pain by forming a protective layer on the sores.
Painkillers: They are recommended to relieve pain and are usually given in a liquid form. It is important to stick to the schedule as advised by the doctor.
Antacids: They could be recommended to control the mouth sores. They create a protective layer over the sores and prevent the acid in the saliva from mixing with them. However, antacids cause side effects like constipation, dry mouth and dizziness.
Mucilages: They are recommended by some doctors, which are lubricant gels to reduce soreness.
Ice chips: Sucking ice chips for 5-10 minutes before and after the drug infusion prevents mouth ulcers.
Diet to Prevent Chemotherapy Mouth Sores
- A properly prepared diet for chemotherapy patient will strengthen the immune system and aid in fighting these infections. Having a balanced diet that will include a variety of foods, help fight mouth sores. There are certain vitamins deficiencies aggravate mouth sores, We have discussed some diet tips that will provide the patient a relief from chemotherapy side effects.
- Avoid spicy and salty foods.
- Citrus fruits and tomatoes should be avoided. However, Strawberries, grape or apple juice could be bearable than the other citrus fruits.
- Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol
- Eat foods with normal temperatures not too hot or cold
- Drink plenty of fluids like decaffeinated tea, water, fresh apple juice, etc
- Avoid dry and sharp foods like toast and dry cereal
- Keep your mouth moist. Eat soft and moist food with sauces and gravies if you have difficulty in swallowing
- A good soft diet would be anything like mashed potatoes, cooked cereals, applesauce, cottage cheese, pudding, and yogurt, smoothies without citrus fruit pulps, soups or food pureed in the blender
Self Help for Chemotherapy Mouth Sores
- Clean your teeth or dentures gently every morning and evening using a recommended mouthwash and toothpaste.
- Use a soft-bristled or a baby toothbrush.
- Good oral hygiene is essential that includes flossing and brushing after every meal
- Keep your lips moist by using a petroleum jelly or a lip balm
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, hot spices, garlic, onion, vinegar and salty food as they cause irritation in the mouth.
Chemotherapy mouth sores usually develop within a few days after treatment starts and subside within two or three weeks after the chemotherapy treatment is over. Fortunately, they can be treated effectively if due care is taken.