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June 14, 2024

Sore Mouth and Throat During Cancer Treatment

Managing a sore mouth and throat during cancer treatment can be challenging, but with the right strategies and care, you can alleviate discomfort and maintain your nutrition. Here are some comprehensive tips and guidelines to help you through this difficult time:

  • Rinse Regularly: Use a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt in a quart of water. Rinse and spit after meals to keep your mouth clean and reduce irritation.
  • Soft and Pureed Foods: Opt for soft or pureed foods. Use a straw for liquids to minimize contact with sore areas. Plastic utensils can help avoid a metallic taste.
  • Cool or Room Temperature Foods: Eating foods at room temperature or slightly cool can be more soothing than hot foods.
  • Avoid Raw and Irritating Foods: Raw foods can be harsh on a sore mouth. Stick to bland, soft foods like scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and smoothies.
  • Medications: If you're struggling with appetite, consult your physician about Liquid Megace or Marinol, which can help stimulate your appetite.
  • Cephacol, Xylocaine, and other pain medicines can help manage mouth pain. Consider taking a pain pill 30 minutes before meals.
  • Vitamin E: Applying the contents of a Vitamin E capsule to mouth ulcers can provide relief.
  • Avoid Irritants: Steer clear of tart, salty, acidic foods, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco as they can exacerbate mouth soreness.
  • Chew Sugar-Free Gum: This can help stimulate saliva production, keeping your mouth moist.
  • Dental Checkup: Visit your dentist before starting cancer treatment to address any existing dental issues.
  • History of Mouth Sores: Inform your provider if you've had mouth sores in the past. They may prescribe preventative medication.
  • Oral Hygiene: Brush and rinse your mouth several times a day. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes. Floss daily and consider using special foam swabs if brushing is painful.
  • Healthy Diet: Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to provide essential vitamins and nutrients.
Soft FoodsApplesauce, bananas, watermelon, cottage cheese, milkshakes, scrambled eggs.
Comfort FoodsPuddings, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese.
EssentialsBread, butter, eggs, honey, cream of wheat, and nutritional supplements.

Mouth sores can lead to complications such as infection, bleeding, and difficulty eating. Here are some additional measures:

  • Avoid Painful Foods: Stay away from acidic, spicy, and sharp foods. Choose soft foods and cut them into small pieces.
  • Eat Small, Frequent Meals: This can help you maintain nutrition without overwhelming your mouth.
  • Use a Straw: This helps keep liquids away from sore areas.
  • Continue Mouth Cleaning: Even if it’s painful, maintain oral hygiene to prevent infections. Use baking soda and warm water for rinsing.
  • Monitor for Complications: If sores bleed or become severely painful, consult your healthcare provider immediately.

By following these tips and working closely with your healthcare team, you can manage the discomfort of a sore mouth and throat during cancer treatment more effectively. Always prioritize communication with your healthcare providers to tailor these suggestions to your specific needs.

Sources: Mouth sores caused by cancer treatment: How to cope - Mayo Clinic and MERCK ONCOLOGY “Eating Well Through Cancer”


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