What Foods Make Mouth Sores Caused by Chemo Worse?
As a treatment for cancer, chemotherapy has been very successful, but this success has come at a price for many patients. Even as they work to eliminate every cancer cell they can find, the drugs used in chemo wreak havoc throughout the body, causing a host of side effects in patients whose lives are already difficult. Some of these effects are more nuisance than danger, though any hardship that adds to the patient’s burden only reduces their quality of life and increases the stress with which they must contend. Even basic functions are affected: Patients going through chemo often report difficulties eating, moving, and concentrating on tasks, which makes daily life all the more challenging. Even certain foods can become your enemy during chemo, especially if you have a condition called oral mucositis, which involves the development of sores in the mouth. So, what foods make mouth sores caused by chemo worse? To find out, keep reading as the people at Chemo Mouthpiece™ provide some answers.
Why Does Chemo Cause Mouth Sores?
It’s no secret that the side effects of chemotherapy can derail a patient’s life, but what’s often less clear is just how this happens. After all, chemotherapy is supposed to make people better, so its debilitating effects don’t seem to make much sense. Why does chemo cause mouth sores?
The answer is surprisingly simple: The very traits that make chemotherapy so effective against cancer are the traits that cause it to inflict side effects. Chemo medications are selected for their ability to seek out and destroy cells that rapidly divide – a signature characteristic in tumors and the reason they grow so quickly. Unfortunately, tumors aren’t the only places where cells behave this way; any area of the body that requires constant growth or repair could exhibit the same attributes.
This is true of the tissues that make up your body’s hair, nails, bone marrow, and mucous membranes – all areas where patients tend to see side effects. The hair loss caused by chemo is well-known, probably because it’s so visible, but other common effects linked to these areas include changes to fingernails and toenails, damage to the immune system, and the formation of lesions (sores) in the mouth.
Foods to Avoid with Chemo Mouth Sores
If you or someone you know has developed mouth sores during chemo, you’re likely already aware of the fact that certain foods can become extremely unpleasant to eat during this time. That’s probably not a big surprise; after all, when you have open wounds in your mouth, they’re bound to be irritated by some of the things you eat. Below, you’ll find a list of foods that can hurt your mouth and make your oral mucositis symptoms even more painful.
- Acidic foods: Waking up in the morning and enjoying a cup of fresh orange juice may be part of your usual routine, but you might have to change that part of your day if you have mouth sores. That’s because acidic foods can trouble an open wound. Try to avoid citrus fruits and juices, as well as tomatoes and tomato-based sauces, as these can cause you pain.
- Salty foods: The phrase “salt in the wound” exists for a reason: If you have an open wound, letting salt get into it can cause severe pain. Those with mouth sores should therefore avoid salty foods, such as crackers, potato chips, French fries, and pretzels.
- Hard foods: Foods that offer a nice crunch when you bite into them may be satisfying under normal circumstances, but you probably won’t like how it feels when the jagged edge of a chip or piece of toast presses against a mouth sore. Avoid hard foods to avoid this potential source of pain.
- Spicy foods: If you like your food hot – and I don’t mean in terms of temperature – it might be time to try some milder flavors. Like salt, other spices can get into your mouth sores and make eating more painful; avoid foods that are overly spicy.
- Very hot or cold foods: Sores in the mouth are often sensitive to extreme temperatures, making it difficult or unpleasant to eat or drink things that are very hot or very cold. Avoid these foods, with one caveat: There’s a chance that cold foods, such as ice cream, may be soothing for your mouth sores, so they may be worth trying out.
- Alcohol: Dealing with chemo may seem hard enough without taking alcohol off the menu, but this substance can cause your mouth sores to burn, and it can even impede the healing process. Try to avoid alcoholic beverages as much as possible if you have oral mucositis symptoms.
If the list above seems like it takes a lot of options off the table for chemo patients, that’s because it does. Mouth sores caused by chemo can be a source of significant discomfort for patients, but limiting your diet to soft, bland foods can help with that. In general, avoid things that could interfere with your body’s ability to heal these wounds – especially alcohol and tobacco – and try to stick to a good oral care routine during chemo, which will help you limit the chances of developing complications.
Fight Mouth Sores Caused by Chemo with an Oral Ice Pack
If you’re going through chemotherapy now or are preparing for your first treatment, know that there may be something you can do to fight oral mucositis before it has a chance to appear. The only preventative measure to show significant promise is cryotherapy, the use of freezing temperatures to treat the body. If you are at risk for mouth sores caused by chemo, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can help by lowering the temperature in your mouth during treatment, causing the blood vessels there to constrict and limiting the amount of chemo medication that can reach the area. To learn more about how this oral cryotherapy device can help with chemo mouth sores, visit the Chemo Mouthpiece™ website or call (866) 461-7518 today.