Always bear in mind that there is no specific treatment for mucositis since it largely depends on the type that the individual has and the exact cause. There are a number of effective treatments for oral mucositis due to radiotherapy but these are not suitable for those who have gastrointestinal mucositis caused by high-dose chemotherapy.
If the individual has oral mucositis, it is vital to observe proper oral hygiene since it can drastically reduce the severity of the symptoms and how long they last. Generally, the individual should be assessed by a dentist before radiotherapy is started to the neck or head or high-dose chemotherapy before a stem cell transplant.
- Always brush teeth every morning and night time and after every meal using a toothbrush that has soft bristles.
- Replace the toothbrush regularly, usually every 3 months.
- Floss the teeth at least once a day or as directed by the doctor or dentist.
- Rinse the mouth 5-6 times throughout the day with a bland rinse. This is basically a combination of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water or a mixture or salt and water. The doctor might be able to recommend the suitable bland rinse to use.
- Avoid tobacco
- Avoid using a mouth rinse that contains alcohol.
- Ensure adequate intake of fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
- Apply a water-based moisturizer to protect the lips.
In case the mouth is sore due to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, there must be changes to the eating habits such as the following:
- Eat soft or moist foods that are plain for easy swallowing
- Make sure that the food eaten is warm.
- Avoid acidic fruits, alcohol, salty or spicy food, vinegar as well as garlic and onions
Always bear in mind the oral mucositis is often painful but pain medications can be used in the form of a gel, mouth rinse or spray. Paracetamol can be given but if not effective, a stronger type can be given such as codeine.
The individual should suck on ice cubes or chips to provide relief to the symptoms of oral mucositis.
What to do for infected ulcers
Once the mouth ulcers due to mucositis become infected, medications are prescribed such as a special mouth wash to prevent further infections from developing. Since there is a risk for oral thrush, it is treated using antifungal medications.
Care for diarrhea
When it comes to gastrointestinal mucositis, it can lead to diarrhea that can be treated by increasing the intake of fluids, anti-diarrheal medications and oral rehydration solutions.
In severe cases, hospitalization is required for the administration of fluids and nutrients intravenously.
Rectal bleeding and ulcers
In some individuals who undergo high-dose radiotherapy to treat cancer in the pelvic area, they might experience rectal bleeding along with inflammation and ulceration of the anus and rectum.
What is palifermin?
This is a type of medication that is considered effective in managing individuals with a stem cell transplant. It promotes the growth of new cells in the lining of the mucous membrane. In addition, it also prevents the formation of sores, thus can be used to prevent and deal with mucositis.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT)
This works by reducing the severity of oral mucositis which involves focusing low-energy lasers on the affected tissue. It is thought to stimulate certain cells that hasten the healing process.