Can You Drink Milk If You Have Mouth Sores Caused by Chemo?
Learning to live with the side effects of chemotherapy can be daunting. As fatigue, chemo brain, and other symptoms begin to appear, even the simplest tasks might start to seem impossible. Patients who go through this procedure report significant changes to their quality of life, not only because of the side effects of chemo themselves, but also because of the ways in which these effects can limit their ability to handle daily responsibilities. Many patients can’t work, clean their homes, prepare meals, or even simply eat the foods that nourished them throughout their lives. In fact, one of the main topics that patients going through chemo ask about is what they can eat, especially if they’re vulnerable to mouth sores caused by chemo. For instance, can you drink milk if you have chemo mouth sores? To find out, keep reading as the people at Chemo Mouthpiece™ explain.
Effects of Chemo on the Mouth
Chemotherapy is an example of what’s called a “systemic” treatment; unlike radiation, which is designed to affect only one specific area of the patient’s body, chemo affects almost every system. That’s because, once administered, the chemo drugs circulate throughout the patient’s body in search of cancer cells, and they tend to wreak havoc along the way.
The problem is that chemo medications can’t tell the difference between friend and foe. These chemicals are designed to target cells that divide and grow quickly, since that’s a trademark of cancer cells. However, there are other cells in the body that act in a similar fashion – namely those in the mouth, hair, nails, bone marrow, and digestive tract. When the chemo drugs reach these tissues, they begin to disrupt functions and attack cells, which is what causes the side effects for which chemotherapy has become infamous.
In the mouth, specifically, chemo drugs travel along blood vessels until they reach the mucous membranes. They then begin to break down these tissues, causing the formation of painful lesions along the inside of the mouth; these sores are often accompanied by bleeding, inflammation, changes in taste, thicker saliva, and difficulty chewing or swallowing food. Altogether, this collection of symptoms is known by the name oral mucositis.
What Can You Eat and Drink with Mouth Sores Caused by Chemo?
Because chemo causes open wounds to form in the mouth, patients are generally encouraged to avoid certain foods. This applies to salty, spicy, or acidic foods and drinks, including orange juice, potato chips, and hot sauce; foods that are hard and crunchy and drinks that are very hot or cold, or which contain alcohol, should also be avoided if you have mouth sores.
While this may make it sound like patients have few choices for what to eat, the truth is that patients with the symptoms of oral mucositis can often enjoy quite a few different treats. Find out more below.
How Milk Helps with Chemo Mouth Sores
Dairy is one of the best food groups for patients with mouth sores caused by chemo. Not only is a tall glass of cold milk soothing to a sore mouth, but it contains a number of important nutrients as well. One of the primary things patients battling an illness need is protein, since it’s a necessary part of the body’s healing process and can help preserve muscle mass as well. Milk happens to be an excellent source of protein – it contains about 8 grams per cup – and it’s much easier to consume than other sources, such as meat. Plus, milk, ice cream, and other dairy products can provide a significant number of calories, which can be hard to come by for patients with oral mucositis.
In addition, milk is a flexible beverage that can be incorporated into a chemo patient’s diet in a number of ways. A bowl of cereal in the morning will go down a lot easier if the cereal is thoroughly soaked in milk first, and it’s not the only food that benefits from this treatment. Adding milk, yogurt, ice cream, or another dairy-based ingredient to a shake or smoothie can give you a tasty drink that’s also got plenty of nutrients and calories.
Other Tips for Eating with Mouth Sores Caused by Chemo
Finding ways to get the nutrients you need during chemo can be tough, especially for those with mouth sores, but there are a few other ways to make things easier. Solid foods should be chopped up and mixed with a sauce or gravy; this will make the food more palatable and easier to eat while also adding some much-needed calories. Choose cooked vegetables and canned fruit over their raw counterparts, since they tend to be much softer. Dip dry or rough foods in water or sauce so they take less effort to chew and swallow.
There are also a few topical medications, such as the popular “magic mouthwash” numbing solution, that could make mealtimes less uncomfortable. Practice a good oral care routine during chemo, and avoid anything that could hinder the healing process, such as smoking. Finally, remember that you can always ask your cancer care team for tips and suggestions.
Fight Chemo Mouth Sores with an Oral Cryotherapy Device
Adjusting to life with chemo mouth sores can be difficult, but there might be a way for some patients to stop the worst of their oral mucositis symptoms before they begin. Cryotherapy – the use of very cold temperatures to treat the body – has shown an ability to reduce the severity of mouth sores in many patients undergoing chemo, and it may be able to help you as well. To learn more about how an oral cryotherapy device works and how it could benefit you or someone you know, visit the Chemo Mouthpiece™ website or call (866) 461-7518 today.