Oral Mucositis – What are the Causes, Symptoms and Treatments?
Oral mucositis is when the oral mucosa – the mucous membrane lining the inside of the mouth – becomes sore and inflamed. The condition, which can be painful, is common amongst cancer patients and is often the result of intense chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
What Causes Oral Mucositis?
Undergoing rigorous cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can damage the delicate cells in the mouth and throat. As a result, the area can become inflamed with white or grey sores.
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy usually become symptomatic in the first week after starting the treatment. Patients undergoing radiotherapy may experience mucositis in the second week of treatment and the symptoms can last over six weeks.
Almost all patients with tumours in the head or neck will develop oral mucositis when treated with radiotherapy, while around 89 per cent will develop the condition when treated with a combination of chemo and radiation. It’s estimated that 40 per cent of patients treated with chemotherapy develop oral mucositis.
Other causes of oral mucositis include undergoing bone marrow and stem cell transplants. Several factors that increase your chances of developing the condition include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Chewing or smoking tobacco
- Poor oral health
- Suffering from diabetes
What are the Effects?
Oral mucositis can cause major discomfort, such as pain in the mouth and throat. Eating overly hot, sour and spicy foods will exacerbate the condition.
You may also experience difficulty chewing, swallowing and speaking, all of which can affect your quality of life. The more severe the mucositis, the greater the risk of life-threatening infections.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Mucositis?
Oral mucositis may manifest itself with the sensation of a burning sensation in the mouth. Swallowing and chewing can be painful, consuming food and drinking becomes difficult or even impossible. This is particularly troublesome as patients need to get enough nutrients in this phase of recovery to strengthen.
The condition can be recognised by the following symptoms:
- thick and sticky saliva
- change of taste
- bleeding and painful gums
- pale-looking oral mucus
- painful blisters in the mouth
What is the Treatment for Oral Mucositis?
While preventing oral mucositis is not always possible, some treatments can help to reduce the pain.
As one of the side effects of cancer treatment, it can be difficult to control. However, implementing a good oral hygiene routine can help to control the condition and reduce the risk of further infection which will slow the healing process.
Begin by ensuring you brush your teeth properly for at least two minutes twice a day. Use a good quality toothpaste and an ultra-soft toothbrush to reduce the pain. Once complete, rinse thoroughly with a non-alcoholic mouthwash and floss if possible.
Avoid overly salty, hot, sour and spicy foods. Instead, opt for soft foods that aren’t too warm or too cold. Drink plenty of water or herbal tea.
Further treatments include chewing sugar-free gum to help keep your mouth moist, sucking on ice lollies or ice cubes and rinsing your mouth with lightly salted water throughout the day.
Treat the Issue with bluem®
Specifically designed for sensitive mouths, bluem® Oxygen Fluid helps avoid irritation and heal oral wounds after chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Suitable for daily use, bluem® Oxygen Fluid contains no alcohol or fluoride and will not cause irritation or stinging. It also doesn’t contain any chemical additives.
For the best results, rinse your mouth with bluem® Oxygen Fluid for 30 seconds after brushing with bluem® toothpaste twice a day. Avoid rinsing your mouth with water after using bluem® Oxygen Fluid as the oxygen-enriched formula is still working and rinsing with water will stop this process.
View our complete bluem® product range here.
Remember; healthy mouth, healthy body.
Frequent Asked Questions About Oral Mucositis
Can you use our products safely during chemotherapy?
Yes, our products are made from natural ingredients, including active oxygen which has healing benefits.
I'm undergoing chemotherapy; will I get this?
Around 40-75% of chemotherapy patients suffer from oral mucositis, while over 90% of head and neck cancer patients can develop the condition. Almost all bone marrow transplant patients are affected.