How to Treat Tongue and Mouth Ulcers Caused by Chemotherapy
Battling the deadly disease known as cancer is tough for anyone, and the side effects that can accompany its treatments tend to only make the situation worse. Many people are familiar with the hair loss, nausea, and other symptoms that often follow the administration of chemotherapy drugs to a patient, but a lesser-known condition has been a source of significant misery for many of those patients, even causing delays in treatments and inflating hospital bills: the mouth sores, bleeding, and inflammation collectively known as oral mucositis.
So how do you treat tongue and mouth ulcers caused by chemotherapy? Keep reading as the oral cryotherapy experts at Chemo Mouthpiece™ address that very topic.
Tongue Ulcers After Chemotherapy Treatments
Though it can be quite effective at tackling certain forms of cancer, chemotherapy has a bad habit of attacking both diseased and healthy tissues indiscriminately, causing further damage even as it seeks to limit cancer’s reach. The double-edged nature of this treatment option is well known, but its exact effects on each patient can vary. While some only have to deal with a limited negative reaction, others must face a bevy of symptoms ranging from the mildly inconvenient to the excruciatingly painful.
Perhaps the most unpleasant side effect of chemotherapy is the appearance of oral mucositis, a condition characterized by ulcers in the mouth and along the tongue that can lead to serious complications. As many as 40% of patients who undergo standard chemo treatments will develop these symptoms, and up to 80% of high-dose chemo patients will experience them as well. (Source)
Severe oral mucositis can cost patients significant sums of money and force their doctors to alter or delay their treatment schedules, further extending recovery time and hurting the overall prognosis. A study published in 2008 showed that a single-point increase in the severity of mucositis (it’s typically judged on a scale of 0-4) had a profound impact on patient outcomes: that increase came with, on average, an extra day of fever, more than double the chance of a serious infection, 2.7 extra days of IV nutrition, 2.6 more days of narcotics, and an almost four-fold increase in a patient’s 100-day mortality risk. Together, patients who experience oral mucositis can expect to spend anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000 more than patients who are spared this ailment.
Treatment Options for Mouth and Tongue Sores Caused by Chemotherapy
There are plenty of options for over-the-counter or do-it-yourself treatments for mouth sores; one of them might be effective for you, though none of them will make your ulcers disappear. The simplest treatment is a mouthwash containing salt and baking soda, as these substances can help ward off infection and reduce pain while also keeping your mouth moisturized. However, you will probably still experience significant discomfort, even if you try out the medicated mouthwashes available at your local drugstore.
Mouth rinses may bring some measure of comfort, but most patients with oral mucositis will find that they require a more powerful option for pain relief. Oral gels are a possible tool for relieving mucositis pain, though their effects tend to be short-lived and relatively weak. Painkillers can provide greater relief, not only from the pain but from the inflammation as well; however, most OTC pain medications are limited in their effectiveness, which is why some patients rely on stronger opioid-based painkillers to handle their oral mucositis symptoms.
Preventing Mouth Ulcers Caused by Chemo Treatments
For those patients who want to avoid potentially addictive pain medications or who find inadequate relief from mouthwashes and oral gels, there is a better way. Cryotherapy – the use of freezing temperatures to affect the body – has shown great promise with limiting or preventing the symptoms of oral mucositis before they have a chance to form in high-dose, short half-life chemo drugs. It does this by causing the blood vessels of the mouth to shrink (vasoconstriction) during a chemotherapy treatment, which in turn allows less of the toxic chemo chemicals into the area. This is the reason why doctors and nurses give their patients ice chips or popsicles during chemo treatments.
Ice chips often don’t fully accomplish this task for one simple reason: they don’t reach the entire oral cavity; instead, these bits of ice sit at the bottom of the mouth or along the sides of the tongue, cooling those areas but no others. To improve on this treatment, engineer and cancer survivor David Yoskowitz invented an ice pack that chills the entire oral cavity during chemo: the Chemo Mouthpiece™.
Because the Chemo Mouthpiece™ shrinks the blood vessels in the mouth – the entire oral palate – it is an incredibly effective cryotherapy tool. While this product, like others, cannot guarantee the prevention of mucositis symptoms, it can substantially reduce the occurrence and severity of the mouth sores that plague so many cancer patients. Cryotherapy has been proven to prevent mouth sores in certain chemo regimens. For greater relief from the pain and inconvenience of oral mucositis, try the Chemo Mouthpiece™ today.
Oral Ice Pack for Preventing Mouth and Tongue Sores After Chemotherapy
The Chemo Mouthpiece™ offers more than the treatment of pain or inflammation; instead, it is intended to save you from needing treatments for those symptoms in the first place. By harnessing the power of cryotherapy, our product can help you better control the appearance of oral mucositis. To learn more about how the Chemo Mouthpiece™ works or to order yours today, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 right away.