Food to Eat If You Have Mouth Sores Caused by Chemotherapy
Though they may not be as noticeable as the hair loss commonly associated with chemo treatments, mouth sores caused by chemotherapy are one of the most debilitating chemotherapy side effects faced by cancer patients. This condition goes well beyond just the sores themselves; further complications can include infections, malnutrition, and other severe problems. So what do you eat when your mouth is filled with painful ulcers and swallowing solid foods is almost impossible? Keep reading as the experts at Chemo mouthpiece™ explain.
The Impact of Oral Mucositis
Most people are aware that going through a round of chemotherapy is an incredibly daunting experience. This is due in large part to the fact that the drugs used in chemotherapy treatments do not differentiate between healthy tissue and diseased tissue; instead, it attacks vulnerable systems throughout the body, causing side effects including nausea, vomiting, neuropathy, and difficulty breathing. In the mouth, the drug breaks down mucous membranes, forming painful, inflamed lesions and ulcers. This is the cause of oral mucositis.
The sores associated with oral mucositis cause more than mere discomfort; they make the mouth vulnerable to infections, especially with the patient’s immune system compromised by the chemotherapy. It also makes chewing and swallowing extremely difficult, if not impossible; this often leads to a limited or nonexistent diet, which in turn leads to malnutrition and dehydration. These conditions are quite serious, as they can impede a patient’s recovery and force a delay in treatment or reduction in dosages until proper nutrition can be restored.
The economic price paid for oral mucositis can be just as staggering as the physical suffering. Patients who see a single-point increase in the severity of mucositis – the condition is generally rated on a scale of 0 to 3 – also experience a prolonged recovery process. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Dental Clinics of North America, that one-point increase is associated with an average of one extra day of fever, a 2.1x risk of developing a serious infection, 2.7 additional days of IV nutrition, 2.6 more days of narcotic painkillers, 2.6 extra days in the hospital, and a 3.9x increase in mortality risk over the first 100 days. This collection of hardships can cost a patient tens of thousands of dollars on top of their already daunting medical bills. (Source)
What to Eat When You Have Mouth Sores from Chemotherapy
Maintaining a healthy diet is incredibly difficult for those suffering from oral mucositis. Not only can chewing and swallowing be quite painful, but the chemotherapy is likely to cause nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, and changes in taste that can also contribute to eating difficulties. Patients must take great care to select foods that they can stomach while still incorporating the pillars of a healthy diet.
First and foremost, try to pick foods that don’t require much effort to chew, things that are soft and without an overwhelming taste – think yogurt or mashed potatoes. Add condiments to your food to adjust the taste and texture, or moisten them with milk, water, or other liquids. In terms of temperature, aim for foods that are moderately warm or cold, but not hot or freezing; remember, the objective is to minimize irritation, so extremes in temperature should be avoided. The same restrictions apply to acidic or alcoholic substances, which can burn when in contact with open sores or a dry throat.
Because protein is an absolutely essential part of the body’s healing process, it is important to consume an appropriate amount in your diet. Adding protein powders and other forms of protein supplements to your foods can be helpful; chewing meat may be impossible, but drinking a protein shake will be significantly easier. Feel free to blend or puree your food as well, though this can sometimes lead to an unappetizing mixture. Nutrition or meal replacement shakes are a more appetizing option, as they contain many of the vital nutrients and vitamins your body needs to maintain its strength.
Preventing Mouth Sores from Chemotherapy with Ice Packs
While finding sustenance is still a possibility, even with severe oral mucositis, the better option for patients is to prevent oral mucositis symptoms altogether, essentially stopping the problem before it begins. The most effective way to do this is through cryotherapy, the application of freezing temperatures to alter the body’s reactions. It’s the reason nurses distribute ice chips and popsicles to patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments: the cold shrinks the blood vessels of the mouth, limiting the amount of toxic chemicals that can access the mouth during chemo and thereby preventing the worst of the sores and inflammation.
However, ice chips and popsicles are imperfect options because they fail to reach much of the mouth’s soft tissue; mostly, they just cool one spot and leave the rest of the oral cavity vulnerable. The Chemo mouthpiece™, on the other hand, can chill the entire mouth, side to side and front to back. This specially designed ice pack was invented by an engineer and cancer survivor specifically to fight oral mucositis, which he himself suffered through, and it excels at its purpose. Try the Chemo Mouthpiece™ today and say goodbye to the worst of oral mucositis.
Prevent Mouth Sores and Preserve Your Health with One Simple Device
Chemo Mouthpiece™ is the most effective oral cryotherapy device available today. Its unique design reaches the entire oral cavity, cooling the tissue by as much as 30°F over the course of at least half an hour – more than enough to ward off sores and keep your mouth as pain-free as possible during chemotherapy. To learn more about how this simple, easy-to-use device can improve your quality of life, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518.