Home Remedies for Oral Mucositis
The challenges of battling cancer come from more than just the disease itself. Common treatments like chemotherapy and radiation come with a laundry list of side effects, each more debilitating than the last, leaving many patients too sick do even the most basic tasks, let alone take care of themselves. Many common chemo side effects are well-known – hair loss is virtually synonymous with chemo, and nausea is generally expected as well – but in some patients, it’s the less obvious ailments that cause the biggest problems. One of the most serious side effects of chemo is oral mucositis, a condition characterized by painful mouth sores and inflammation that can make eating and drinking difficult or impossible. If you or someone you know has this condition, know that there are a few things you can do to alleviate the symptoms. To learn more, keep reading as the people at Chemo Mouthpiece™ explain.
What Causes Oral Mucositis?
We all know that undergoing chemotherapy is a painful endeavor, but understanding exactly why and how the problematic side effects of chemo affect patients can make it easier to treat the issues at hand. The first thing you should know is that chemotherapy is what’s known as a “systemic” treatment, meaning that it affects the entire body; when administered, toxic chemo drugs circulate throughout your bloodstream, targeting any cells that behave like cancer.
These medications affect cells that divide and grow quickly – a signature characteristic of tumors, but also of healthy cells like those in your hair, bone marrow, and mucous membranes. These tissues are therefore vulnerable to damage at the figurative hands of chemotherapy.
When chemo chemicals reach the mucous membranes that line the cheeks and tongue, they travel along the blood vessels that run throughout the area, damaging healthy cells as they go. This leads to the breakdown of those tissues, which manifests as openings – sores – that can be quite painful, along with inflammation, dry mouth, and a thickening of the saliva, all of which can lead to difficulty eating food, drinking fluids and can result in higher hospital bills caused by mucositis.
Managing Your Oral Mucositis Symptoms with Home Remedies
Though there is not yet a treatment that can entirely prevent or eliminate the symptoms of oral mucositis, there are a few things patients can do to manage their condition and improve their overall quality of life. Many of these treatments can be administered at home using household materials, making them both convenient and affordable. Below, you’ll find some of the most popular home remedies for oral mucositis.
Salt Water and Baking Soda
Making your own oral mucositis mouthwash may sound complicated, but it’s actually very simple. Salt water, for example, can be an effective topical home remedy painkiller, and it can help to fight infection as well. Baking soda is another helpful ingredient to include, as the basic nature of this compound can reduce acidity in the mouth and ease some of your pain. Try adding a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda to one quart of water and mix; use this to rinse your mouth after every meal and at the beginning and end of your day.
As a time-honored home remedy for oral pain and discomfort, clove oil had demonstrated minor painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties that can make it useful for fighting the symptoms of mucositis. A small amount of clove oil can be applied directly to an open sore, causing a slight numbness and helping to ease swelling and inflammation. If you suffer from a more severe case of mucositis and have widespread mouth sores, a drop of clove oil in a cup of water can make an effective mouth rinse as well.
Patients reading up on oral mucositis will likely come across the phrase “magic mouthwash,” which refers to a mixture of different medications that provide a home remedy topical relief to mouth sores. There is no set formula for these mixes, but most contain some combination of a local anesthetic – such as lidocaine – an antihistamine, an antacid, an antibiotic, and possibly an anti-fungal agent or corticosteroid. These mixtures are typically available at your local pharmacy.
Freezing temperatures have long been a go-to source of pain relief; from athletes with torn ligaments to mothers treating bruised knees, the simple application of ice is a common remedy that has helped most of us at one time or another. Icing the inside of your mouth, however, can be tricky. Many treatment centers distribute ice chips to patients as a limited form of cryotherapy, but these chips tend to just sit in the bottom of the mouth before quickly melting away. A better, more effective method of cryotherapy can be found in the Chemo Mouthpiece™, a simple, easy-to-use oral ice pack for treating mucositis. The mouthpiece can be placed in your freezer then applied right in your home to cool your entire oral cavity, numbing your pain and providing immediate relief.
Powerful Oral Mucositis Relief Available with the Chemo Mouthpiece™
If you are currently going through chemotherapy or radiation treatments and have the symptoms of oral mucositis, know that help is available. Oral cryotherapy has been established as one of the most effective methods of mitigating the severity of mucositis, both as a preventative measure and as an at-home treatment for oral discomfort. While ice cubes can provide a limited form of cryotherapy, a medical device designed specifically to treat mucositis may offer a much more potent solution. To learn more about the Chemo Mouthpiece™ and how it can help fight the effects of oral mucositis, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.