Is Dairy Good for Mouth Sores Caused by Chemo?
When going through chemotherapy, it’s not uncommon for cancer patients to develop painful lesions in their mouths. If this sounds uncomfortable, that’s because it is; those who experience this condition – which is called oral mucositis – often have to make significant changes to their diets in order to avoid unnecessary pain while still getting the nutrients they need to fight their illness. People in this unenviable position tend to have a number of questions about how to live with it, including what they can eat, what foods they should prioritize, and whether there’s anything they can do about their symptoms. One specific query that many chemo patients have is whether dairy is good for mouth sores caused by chemo; to find out, keep reading as the experts at Chemo Mouthpiece™ offer their insight on the matter.
How Dairy Can Help with Mouth Sores Caused by Chemo
Those battling cancer often report a wide range of unpleasant side effects caused by chemo, from the tell-tale lack of hair generally associated with chemo to the less obvious but more debilitating oral mucositis symptoms – mouth sores, inflammation, bleeding, thicker saliva, changes in taste, and difficulty chewing or swallowing. Finding ways to deal with the latter condition can be challenging for patients, both because of the daily pain these mouth sores can cause and because of the extra effort required to prepare a meal they can actually eat.
One way patients with chemo mouth sores can get the nutrition they need is by incorporating several helpings of dairy into their diet. While some types of food can irritate the sores and cause pain or inhibit the healing process, dairy products are largely beneficial, thanks to the nutrients they contain and the ease with which patients can consume them.
Take a simple glass of milk, for example. One 8 oz. cup of milk contains a whopping 8 grams of protein, an incredibly important macronutrient for cancer patients. Protein is essential for helping the body heal open wounds (such as mouth sores) and can help preserve muscle mass during periods of inactivity as well. Because drinking some milk is much easier on the patient than eating a burger or some other source of protein, incorporating this beverage into your diet can help boost your protein intake with little in the way of extra effort.
Perhaps a better example (and certainly a tastier one) is ice cream. As a dairy product, ice cream contains many of the same nutrients as a glass of milk, including protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, riboflavin, and vitamins A, D, and B12. In addition, because ice cream is kept at such a cold temperature, it can soothe your sores as you eat it.
Perhaps the most important benefit of ice cream, however, is in the number of calories it contains. Many patients with chemo mouth sores tend to consume far too few calories each day, which can easily lead to extreme weight loss and even malnutrition. By enjoying some ice cream each day or every few days, you can boost your calorie intake and support a healthy body weight while providing your body with the energy it needs to stay strong as you fight your illness.
The final advantage dairy products can offer those with mouth sores caused by chemo is flexibility. Milk can be added to many dishes; soak hard foods in milk to soften them up, for example, or pour a little milk into the next sauce you make for a bit of extra protein and calories. If you prefer a largely liquid diet, as many chemo patients do, consider adding some yogurt or ice cream to your next shake or smoothie; it’ll add some much-needed nutrition, and it’ll taste great, too.
Preventing Chemo Mouth Sores with Cryotherapy
Finding ways to live with oral mucositis is all well and good, but if there was a way to prevent or reduce your chemo mouth sores in the first place, wouldn’t it be worth checking out? Though there is not yet a method for completely preventing the mouth sores caused by chemo, one type of treatment has proven effective at limiting the severity of this condition for many patients: cryotherapy, in which freezing or near-freezing temperatures are applied to the inside of the mouth.
The objective of cryotherapy is surprisingly simple. When very cold temperatures are applied to the inside of the mouth, the blood vessels in that area will constrict, limiting the flow of blood (and whatever the bloodstream carries) to the mucous membranes. If this effect can be triggered just before and during a chemo infusion, the movement of the toxic chemo drugs to the mouth can be significantly reduced, which in turn can mitigate the patient’s oral mucositis symptoms.
This is why healthcare professionals in treatment centers across the country distribute ice chips and popsicle to their patients during an infusion, though ice chips will only get you so far. Instead, consider a more potent oral cryotherapy device, such as the Chemo Mouthpiece™. This simple, easy-to-use device can evenly cool the entire oral cavity by as much as 30 degrees over the course of half an hour, effectively treating the entire mouth and delivering powerful cryotherapeutic relief right when you need it.
Specialized Oral Ice Pack for Fighting Mouth Sores Caused by Chemo
If you or someone you love is going through chemo treatments (or getting ready to start chemotherapy), know that help is available. With the Chemo Mouthpiece™, it might be possible to limit the effects of chemo drugs on the mouth, reducing the severity of any sores that appear while bringing down the cost of oral mucositis. If you’d like to learn more about how this device works and whether it can help you or a loved one, visit the Chemo Mouthpiece™ website or call (866) 461-7518 today.