Can You Treat Mouth Sores from Chemo Naturally?
The mouth sores caused by chemotherapy drugs are more than a mere nuisance; they represent a serious threat to a patient’s health and well-being at a critical time in their battle with cancer. This condition, which is known by the term “oral mucositis,” is consistently ranked by many patients as one of the most debilitating side effects of chemotherapy. Along with the sores themselves – which are painful enough on their own – patients can also experience severe inflammation, and are at a greater risk of infection. They may also have difficulty chewing, drinking, swallowing, talking or even sleeping. These symptoms make the treatment of oral mucositis extremely important for patients, but is there any way to treat mouth sores naturally? Keep reading as the experts at Chemo Mouthpiece™ address that very topic.
The Cause of Oral Mucositis
As chemotherapy drugs enter the body, they begin circulating through the bloodstream in search of rapidly growing cells like those found in tumors. Unfortunately, these drugs also tend to attack tissues that behave similarly to cancer; any area of the body that exhibits fast growth is vulnerable to the predations of chemo drugs, most notably the hair, nails, mucous membranes, and bone marrow. When the toxic chemo chemicals reach these areas, they disrupt the body’s natural processes, leading not only to the hair loss so common among cancer patients, but also to a weakened immune system and painful sores in the mouth.
More specifically, the drugs used in chemotherapy travel through the blood vessels in the mouth and attack the mucous membranes there, causing them to break down and form painful lesions. These ulcers can make chewing and swallowing food very difficult, if not impossible, which can lead to malnutrition and force delays in future treatments. These open sores also represent a chance for an infection to set in, which could also be very damaging to a patient’s overall prognosis, especially if their immune system is already compromised by chemo.
A study of chemotherapy patients conducted in 2008 found that an increase in the severity of oral mucositis was linked to more than double the risk of a serious infection; an extra day of fever; more than two additional days of narcotic treatments, IV nutrition, and general hospitalization; and an almost four-fold increase in a patient’s mortality risk. These complications can add up to more than $25,000 in additional medical costs for patients who already likely face steep hospital bills, making the mitigation of mucositis symptoms a financial issue as well as a health concern.
Natural Treatments for Chemo Mouth Sores
It probably comes as no surprise to learn that painkillers are often a part of the treatment regimen for oral mucositis, but many patients understandably prefer to avoid these powerful drugs, instead opting for a natural method of pain relief and good oral care during chemotherapy. However, for a condition as serious as oral mucositis, it can be necessary to sift through the many treatment options to determine what might actually be effective. Below are some of the more promising methods of relieving the discomfort brought on by chemo mouth sores.
Mouthwashes are among the most accessible and convenient mouth sore treatments available to patients. A number of medicated mouthwashes are available over the counter at your local drug store, but there are also some homemade options that are easy to make and surprisingly effective at helping with oral mucositis. The most basic of these treatments is a simple saltwater rinse; just add half a teaspoon of salt to a warm glass of water, then mix well and use it to rinse out your mouth. Salt water has anti-inflammatory properties and is a natural disinfectant, plus it can promote the healing process. For an added boost, you can mix in the same amount of baking soda as well.
Cryotherapy involves the use of freezing or near-freezing temperatures to help the body in some way. For cancer patients, the goal is to apply cold temps to the mouth during chemo infusions to shrink the blood vessels in the area; this should reduce the flow of toxic drugs to the area and mitigate the patient’s mucositis symptoms. Nurses and doctors give out ice chips or popsicles at infusion centers for this very reason, but these objects often fail to cool the entire mouth effectively. Instead, the use of a specialized oral cryotherapy device like the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can ensure the uniform delivery of cold temperatures throughout the entire mouth, shrinking all the blood vessels in the area, providing a more proactive approach for oral mucositis and serves as an effective relief method for mucositis symptoms.
Clove Oil Mouthwash
Clove oil is a popular treatment for many types of oral pain, from toothaches to mouth sores and everything in between. It contains components which can numb pain and fight inflammation, plus it can help kill bacteria that could cause an infection. A small amount of the oil can be applied directly to the source of your pain, though for those with more widespread oral issues – such as those with oral mucositis – it can be more effective to simply add a drop of clove oil to a cup of water and use it as a mouthwash every few hours as needed.
Specialized Cryotherapy Device for Managing Oral Mucositis Naturally
For those who want to fight the mouth sores, pain, and inflammation associated with chemotherapy, the use of cryotherapy represents the best chance at preventing the worst of your symptoms before they can appear. The Chemo Mouthpiece™ is an oral cryotherapy device that was specifically designed by an engineer and cancer survivor to fight oral mucositis. Learn more about this unique device and how it can help you or a loved one by visiting us online or calling (866) 461-7518 today.