For people who have been diagnosed with cancer, doctors will generally recommend chemotherapy treatment. This is because many medical experts consider chemotherapy to be an effective treatment for cancer. However, while undergoing chemotherapy treatment, people will likely experience some unwanted side effects. One such side effect of chemotherapy is known as ‘oral mucositis’.
What is oral mucositis?
Oral mucositis (also called ‘stomatitis’) refers to the inflammation of the mucosa in the mouth. This means that the membrane which lines the inside of the mouth, including the soft palate, the top of the tongue, as well as inside the cheek, may experience anything from redness to severe ulceration.
Will you experience oral mucositis?
Research shows that oral mucositis occurs in around 40% of people who undergo chemotherapy. However, patients who are receiving chemotherapy treatment for head and neck cancers are more likely to develop oral mucositis. This is because the medications used in those cases directly targets the areas in and around the mouth.
How does oral mucositis affect you?
Oral mucositis can cause great discomfort for many chemotherapy patients. People who develop oral mucositis have complained of severe oral pain and even an inability to tolerate food. Additionally, oral mucositis may increase the risks of mouth infections. In extreme cases of oral mucositis, chemotherapy treatment may need to be delayed so as to allow cancer patients some relief from pain.
It should also be noted that the physical symptoms of oral mucositis have the potential to affect people psychologically as well. Trouble with eating and drinking has caused depression amongst some chemotherapy patients, as well as anorexia (due to symptoms of a perpetually dry mouth and altered tastebuds).
How long does oral mucositis last?
Fortunately, oral mucositis is not a long-term side effect of chemotherapy treatment. It generally goes away a few weeks after stopping chemotherapy.
How can you manage oral mucositis during chemotherapy?
Even though oral mucositis can be difficult to avoid for people undergoing chemotherapy, there are some ways that they can reduce the symptoms of pain and discomfort. For instance, people with oral mucositis should avoid things which can cause irritation in the mouth, including smoking, consuming alcohol and eating spicy or acidic foods. Further, they should try to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing their teeth twice a day with a soft-thistle toothbrush.
Many chemotherapy patients have also found it helpful to combat oral mucositis by using mouth-cooling products. For example, Aurora Direct offers a Chemo Mouthpiece Patient Kit. The kit is made up of water, salt and medical grade silicone, and essentially functions as an ice pack for inside the mouth. While people can use ice chips to relieve the symptoms of oral mucositis, Aurora Direct’s Chemo Mouthpiece Patient Kit offers a more effective way of soothing the pain.
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