Sunday, January 10, 2010

If only it was Captain Crunch's fault...

These mouth sores are out of hand! My friend Karen described it best when she asked if it feels like I ate too much Captain Crunch. Exactly! My tongue really hurts and I can feel the sores. Orajel Mouth Rinse helps but only for a while. Mouth sores are one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy of the head and neck area. Known to doctors as mucositis, they can actually occur anywhere in the mouth or throat and develop when the ultrasensitive tissue that lines the mouth and throat becomes inflamed. A number of risk factors increase the chance that you will have to deal with chemo-related mouth sores while battling cancer. People who smoke or wear dentures are particularly at risk, and those who have a history of susceptibility to cold sores, canker sores, and gum infections tend to have more trouble with mouth sores than those who haven't struggled with these irritations in the past. Because alcohol is an irritant and dries mouth tissues, drinking can exacerbate mouth sores. If you have a low white blood cell count, this can contribute to mouth sores as well. Chemo-related mouth sores tend to be episodic, appearing three to ten days after a chemo treatment. The first sign is a burning sensation in the mouth, and the ulcers appear soon afterward. These types of mouth sores usually clear up within a week or so, unless malnutrition slows recovery.
Mouth sores often form on the lips, gums, inside the cheeks, tongue, floor and roof of the mouth. These painful sores can affect your eating, drinking, speech and ability to swallow. The proper treatment of mouth sores is extremely important because patients receiving chemo are susceptible to infection. Since chemotherapy attacks both healthy and cancerous cells in the body, the mouth, with it's delicate bacterial balance, is often affected. These cankers can bleed and ulcerate, causing considerable pain.
I'm really getting concerned about the cumulative effects of chemo. I've experienced a few mouth sores before but not like this! The following suggestions have been given:
  • A combination of mouth rinses and good hygiene is most effective.
  • Eat bland foods. Try yogurt, good old macaroni and cheese, and foods with sauces and bland gravies.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal and at bedtime, but do it carefully.
  • Drink 64 ounces of water a day.
  • Rinse with a baking soda rinse.
  • Rinse with salt-water.
  • If it hurts to drink, try using a straw. Choose softer foods rather than that hoagie sub you’re just dying to munch on. Cut your food into small bites to make chewing easier.
  • Suck on ice cubes during chemotherapy treatment.
  • Try applying honey to the sores.
  • Discuss vitamin supplements such as L-lysine with your doctor.
I am willing to try pretty much anything as this is awful!

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