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Oral Mucositis and How to Treat it


What is Oral Mucositis?

Oral mucositis is the inflammation of the mouth or your gut causing it to be sore and inflamed.

What causes Oral Mucositis?

Mucositis is usually a side effect to cancer therapy, it develops when cancer treatment which is killing cancer cells also kills the healthy cells, leading to sores and infection. Most at risk are children and adults undergoing chemotherapy treatment and also patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment for head and neck cancers.

What are the symptoms of Mucositis?

Oral mucositis is probably the most common complication of cancer treatments. It can stop you wanting to eat and drink, leading to issues with nutrition, dehydration, and weight loss. The main symptom is intense pain caused by ulcers in the mouth. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Red, shiny swollen areas in the mouth and gums
  • Sore areas in the mouth or tongue
  • Yellow film covering the mouth
  • Pain in the throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Thicker saliva

As a result of these symptoms, you can develop dysphagia and it might impair your ability to talk, eat and swallow. The symptoms usually start 5-10 days after chemotherapy treatment and can last 1-6 weeks or even more.

How is Oral Mucositis diagnosed?

You will probably be warned by your cancer team about the risks of oral mucositis, you should tell your care team if you develop it. Your cancer care team will diagnose mucositis on the appearance, location and timing of the infection.

How is Oral Mucositis treated?

Your cancer care team will recommend suitable treatment for you. This might include painkillers or medicines to ease pain. They also might recommend a mouthwash or spray.  The brand that we would recommend is called Mucosamin (click here to view details)  and this can help to prevent, relieve and treat oral mucositis caused by radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Mucosamin helps to prevent oral mucositis developing, reduce symptoms of dry mouth, relieves pain and helps to heal lesions.

What else can I do?

To help prevent and ease mucositis you should try the following:

  • Keep mouth clean by brushing your teeth with a soft toothbrush after eating, using floss and rinse your mouth with warm water a few times a day.
  • Visit your dentist and ensure there are no problems before starting cancer treatments. Your care team may be able to recommend a dentist.
  • Keep lips moist with lip balm.
  • If mouth is sore, suck on ice or ice lollies.
  • Eat soft, moist food which is easier to swallow and avoid food that is rough or sharp. You should also avoid hot, spicy foods, hot drinks and alcohol.
  • Avoid smoking
  • Drink plenty of water

read more about Mucositis on the NHS website.