How to Stop Mouth Sores from Chemotherapy
The ulcers and sores that can form inside the mouth following chemotherapy can be very painful and expensive. This condition, called oral mucositis, is one of the leading complications related to cancer treatments, as well as one of the most debilitating. Patients routinely report that mucositis is one of the worst side effects, prompting many to seek effective treatment for this ailment.
While there is not yet a way to completely prevent oral mucositis in those who are susceptible, some treatment options are much more effective than others. To learn how you can stop mouth sores from chemotherapy, read on as experts from Chemo Mouthpiece™ discuss this issue.
What Causes Mouth Sores After Chemo?
Drugs used in chemotherapy target cancerous tissues and healthy tissues alike, ravaging the body even as they attempt to save it – a paradox made evident in the effects of chemo on the mucosal membranes of the mouth. As the drugs circulate through a patient’s blood vessels, reaching the farthest corners of the body, their effects begin to manifest in unintended ways; for instance, exposure to the toxic medications cause the sores, ulcers, and inflammation associated with oral mucositis.
Other Symptoms of Oral Mucositis
These sores can be extremely painful, preventing many patients from eating or drinking and potentially leading to malnutrition that can jeopardize a person’s treatment regimen. As the sores linger, bleeding can occur, and the open wounds can become infected if not treated properly – a disastrous complication that should be avoided at all costs.
Costs of Oral Mucositis
It may seem like a relatively minor inconvenience, but oral mucositis can be costly for patients, especially in its more severe forms. In one 2007 study, the incidence of oral mucositis cost patients between $1,700 and $6,000 in additional charges, depending on the severity of the condition. This can come in the form of extra days in the hospital, delays in treatment, or the extended use of parenteral nutrition or pain medication. (Source)
Treating Mouth Sores Caused by Chemotherapy
Though science has yet to develop a perfect treatment for this difficult, costly ailment, patients do have some options for preventative care that can help to limit the effects of chemo on healthy mouth tissues. These typically come in one of several different forms, including medication, mouthwashes, or cryotherapy.
The options for medications that prevent oral mucositis are limited, though one does stand out as a potentially effective aid for some patients. Palifermin is a powdered medication that is mixed with a liquid and administered through an IV; it’s used to prevent the formation of mouth sores and to help them heal faster when they do form. Unfortunately, this drug is only used in patients who have cancers of the blood or bone marrow, specifically, so it’s not helpful to the majority at risk for oral mucositis.
There are a number of mouthwashes available to help treat oral mucositis, some of which can even be made at home. Certain cancer centers distribute saline solutions or topical anesthetics in the form of mouthwash to patients, and there are those who find relief in baking soda mouthwashes. However, each of these treatments has one shortfall in common: they are only useful once the sores in the mouth have formed. In other words, you must already be experiencing the painful symptoms of oral mucositis before a mouthwash will be of any use to you, and any benefits you see will likely be short-term.
In summation, cryotherapy is an oral mucositis treatment method that uses cold temperatures to affect the body’s systems; when used as a measure against oral mucositis, freezing objects – usually ice chips or popsicles – are left in the mouth while the patient receives their chemotherapy treatment. The objective is to shrink the blood vessels of the mouth with low temperatures, thereby limiting the amount of toxic chemo compounds that can reach vulnerable tissues. The advantage of cryotherapy is that it can limit the degree to which oral mucositis occurs, making it ideal as a preventative measure.
Though it is arguably the most helpful method of addressing oral mucositis, cryotherapy is only as effective as the delivery system a patient uses. Ice chips sit on the bottom of the mouth, and popsicles only reach a limited area; either option is severely limited in its effectiveness. By comparison, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ offers a much more potent oral cryotherapy treatment because it cools the entire oral cavity uniformly for the entire duration of a round of chemo. This brings greater relief of oral mucositis symptoms than what is offered by ice chips or other common treatments.
Find Relief from Oral Mucositis with the Chemo Mouthpiece™
For patients suffering from cancer, dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation can be overwhelming. That’s why a cancer survivor and engineer invented the Chemo Mouthpiece™ – so patients have one less thing to worry about at an already difficult time. Find relief from the pain and expense of oral mucositis with an innovative and easy-to-use device: Chemo Mouthpiece™. For more information or to order a mouthpiece of your own or for a loved one, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.