Is Oral Mucositis Contagious?
Cancer patients face a bevy of concerns as they struggle with their illness, including the pain, swelling, and complications that come with oral mucositis. Among the various side effects of chemotherapy, mucositis is considered by many to be one of the worst, even when compared to the nerve pain, hair loss, and other unpleasant conditions that can develop. Both those who suffer from oral mucositis and those who care for them may worry about catching this ailment. This is a very reasonable worry especially since the side effect results in intense discomfort and the weight of its impact on a patient’s life can be so severe. So, is oral mucositis contagious? Keep reading as the experts at Chemo Mouthpiece™ answer this very question.
What Causes Oral Mucositis?
By its very nature, drugs used in chemotherapy will seek-out and destroy cells in the body that multiply and grow rapidly. This makes chemo drugs the perfect weapon against cancer — a disease that amounts to the fast, out-of-control growth of the body’s tissues — but it is also a treatment that causes some collateral damage. While cancer cells may be the prime targets for an infusion of chemotherapy, there exist some healthy areas of the body that show similar rates of growth, which tend to draw the attention of chemo drugs as well. Hair is a notable example of this — which is why hair falls out during chemotherapy — but some other regions include your gut, bone marrow, and mouth.
As the chemo drugs are infused into a patient’s system, they circulate through the body’s blood vessels, eventually reaching the mouth. Because the mucous membranes in a person’s oral cavity exhibit rapid cell growth, the drugs target these membranes. Once they enter the mouth, they begin breaking down the mucosa, causing the pain, inflammation, and sores that many patients experience with chemotherapy. These symptoms tend to be more pronounced in patients being treated for cancers of the head, mouth, or throat, though anyone undergoing chemo or radiation treatments can develop the condition. Studies show that as many as 40% of those receiving standard chemotherapy experience mucositis symptoms, as well as up to 80% of those undergoing high-dose chemo treatments. (Source).
Can You Catch Oral Mucositis?
There are few medical questions that can be answered with absolute certainty, but this one can be. No, you cannot catch oral mucositis from a cancer patient because the condition is not contagious. Unlike illnesses such as the flu, which is caused by the spread of a virus from person to person, the root cause of mucositis — the chemo drugs — cannot be transmitted to another person through any normal means. Simply put, oral mucositis happens because of chemotherapy medications interacting with the mouth; unless you personally undergo chemo treatments yourself (or some similar treatment, such as radiation) and expose your own tissues to those same medications, you don’t have to worry about getting oral mucositis.
How to Deal with Chemo Mouth Sores
A fair number of treatments exist for patients with oral mucositis, offering varying degrees of effectiveness for easing pain and inflammation or for addressing certain complications. Many of these are available over the counter or can be made at home, though they often lack the potency of more developed products, and it should be noted that a good oral care routine for chemotherapy can help as well. Below are some of the top resources people use to deal with their oral mucositis symptoms:
Several mouthwashes are available to patients, most of which can be purchased from a local drugstore. However, an effective, accessible option exists that anyone can easily make at home: a salt water rinse. Salt water has proven to be a powerful infection-fighting and pain-reducing agent for topical conditions like mucositis, and it’s quite simple to make at home. Just mix about one teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and rinse out your mouth with it. This should reduce swelling and inflammation while mitigating pain and cleaning your sores.
Meal Replacement Shakes
One of the chief complaints of those with oral mucositis is the discomfort they experience when chewing or swallowing solid food; in extreme cases, those with mucositis may find it impossible to take in any nutrition orally at all. If you or a loved one is having trouble with solid food, try using a nutrition or meal replacement shake to ensure the proper number of calories and nutrients are consumed.
Oral Cryotherapy Device
While some treatments exist for helping patients manage oral mucositis symptoms, none of these options can prevent the emergence of mucositis as effectively as cryotherapy, the use of cold therapy. Cryotherapy shrinks the blood vessels of the mouth and reduces the amount of chemo drugs that can enter the area, limiting the damage those drugs can inflict damage. The Chemo Mouthpiece™ is a simple, easy-to-use cryotherapy device specifically designed to provide relief from oral mucositis symptoms through cryotherapy. Try one of these devices during your next chemo treatment and see the difference firsthand. Or purchase directly online for a friend or family member who could benefit from this device.
Use Cryotherapy to Prevent Oral Mucositis Caused by Chemo
When faced with impending chemo treatments and the appearance of oral mucositis, preventative measures can end up saving a patient time, money, and pain. The Chemo Mouthpiece™ is a powerful oral cryotherapy device that can cool the entire mouth, shrinking the blood vessels and reducing the severity of mucositis symptoms. To learn more about the Chemo Mouthpiece™ and how it can help with chemo mouth sores, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.