What is the Fastest Way to Cure Stomatitis?
Among the more bothersome side effects of chemotherapy are the twin conditions stomatitis and mucositis, terms that can sometimes be used interchangeably. Stomatitis is the more general term; it technically refers to any condition involving irritation of the mouth, though it is most often linked to either canker sores or cold sores. Mucositis, on the other hand, is inflammation of the body’s mucous membranes, which line the digestive system (including the mouth). While mucositis can sometimes affect the intestines, it is a term typically used to describe a collection of oral symptoms that could also fall under the umbrella of “stomatitis.” Of course, regardless of what the problem is called, the priority of those who experience it is figuring out how to treat their symptoms and cure their condition. So, what is the fastest and most effective way to cure stomatitis? To find out, keep reading as the people at Chemo Mouthpiece™ explain.
Common Causes of Stomatitis and Mucositis
Though they may sound like a severe issue, mouth sores are surprisingly common in one form or another. Many Americans get canker sores – the small, somewhat painful lesions that can show up on the soft tissues of the mouth – and their cause is still unknown. Cold sores, which are caused by a herpes simplex virus, are also common, and they cannot be cured (though they can often be treated). For most people, neither issue is particularly alarming, and the symptoms tend to disappear on their own within a week or two.
However, the symptoms of stomatitis are a much greater threat to cancer patients than to your average healthy individual. That’s because stomatitis frequently plagues those undergoing chemotherapy and certain forms of radiation treatments in the form of oral mucositis, one of the more serious side effects of these procedures. Not only is this condition painful, but it can lead to a host of complications that can threaten a patient’s life and cause serious delays in treatment. The cost of oral mucositis caused by chemo can be in the tens of thousands of dollars, making it a threat to patients’ wallets as much as it is to their physical well-being.
The reason for this is that chemotherapy drugs affect more than just cancerous tissues; they circulate throughout the body, attacking healthy tissues that display some of the same traits as cancer. This collateral damage is what leads to the many side effects that accompany chemo, from the loss of hair to the appearance of painful sores in the mouth.
Treating Stomatitis and Oral Mucositis
If your stomatitis symptoms are minor – i.e., if you have cold sores or canker sores – then you probably won’t have to do much to get rid of the problem. Most of these symptoms will dissipate after less than two weeks; if they do not, contact your doctor right away. In any case, there isn’t much that can be done to get rid of stomatitis. The best most patients can do is to mitigate the symptoms until they clear up on their own.
If you have stomatitis and want to relieve the discomfort associated with this condition, you can find some self-care tips for dealing with your symptoms below.
- Practice good oral hygiene – It may sound overly simplistic, but oral hygiene is often a factor in the development of stomatitis and mucositis. Brushing your teeth two to three times per day with a soft-bristled brush can improve symptoms, as can using a mouthwash. If you have extensive mucositis, try rinsing with saltwater or a baking soda mixture after each meal as part of a good oral care routine for chemo.
- Treat the pain – There are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help with the pain of stomatitis. Common drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can provide relief in minor cases. For cancer patients with more severe symptoms, a topical anesthetic like lidocaine may bring relief, either by itself or as part of the “magic mouthwash” that so many chemo patients use.
- Avoid irritating food and drinks – Salty, spicy, and acidic foods and beverages can all exacerbate the symptoms of stomatitis, as can those that are especially hot. Try avoiding anything that causes excessive pain or irritates your mouth.
- Talk to your doctor – If your symptoms last for more than two weeks, they may require medical intervention; talk to your doctor if this is the case. If the cause of your symptoms is chemotherapy or radiation, your oncologist may be able to alter your treatment to alleviate your symptoms or recommend ways to help limit their severity.
Dealing with the effects of stomatitis can be frustrating, especially given the fact that there may be little you can do except wait for your condition to improve. In the meantime, try some of the suggestions listed above and see what works for you.
Fight Stomatitis Caused by Cancer Treatments with the Chemo Mouthpiece™
There may not be a way to entirely prevent the symptoms of stomatitis in chemo patients, but one method of treatment has shown great promise at helping limit the severity of oral mucositis symptoms. Cryotherapy – the use of freezing temperatures to affect the body – can cause the blood vessels in the mouth to shrink, which makes it harder for toxic chemo drugs to reach the sensitive tissues there. If you or someone you know is going through chemo and would benefit from less severe stomatitis or oral mucositis, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ may be able to help. Learn more about this simple, easy-to-use oral cryotherapy device today by visiting us online or calling (866) 461-7518 right away.