Mouth Sores from Chemo or Radiation

Coping with chemo mouth sore with salt and baking soda

One potential Chemo side effect  is developing mouth sores. I met a friend who was about six weeks ahead of me in his treatment of Non-Hodgkin's' Lymphoma and was a major help to me with his suggestions for cancer insights. On my first visit to his home, he took me into his kitchen and showed me his jar of half baking soda and half salt next to his sink. He said, you must rinse with a teaspoon of this and warm water several times a day, after you eat and before you go to bed to avoid mouth sores from chemo or radiation.

Of course, I before starting treatment, I spoke to my oncologist, and she told me and confirmed that oral health is vital to healing. She said, mucositis can cause pain and infections. Mouth sores can make it difficult to eat, drink and swallow. She also advised me to get a gentle toothbrush like a Sonicare. Regular brushing can be to harsh on these delicate membranes.

Mouth Sore Symptoms

These symptoms are discussed in, a wonderful source for cancer resources.

  • Gums appear to be swollen and red
  • Throat and mouth feel sore or tender
  • Small ulcers
  • Discomfort in the throat or mouth, especially when eating hot or cold foods
  • A change in the amount of mucus in the mouth

When to Call your Doctor

When you are going through treatment, you will need to use your journal to write down any symptoms you may be having. Be on the lookout for these sores (your mouth will be sore if you have them). Also, call the doctor if you have a fever or you are unable to eat or drink.

How Long do Chemo Mouth Sores Last?

Usually, mouth sores appear a few days after your treatment starts, and they’ll disappear two or three weeks after your chemo ends. But everyone is different so the range will vary per person.

Often, mouth sores from cancer treatment are the worst around a week after chemo. After that, they get much better.

Soothing Help

If you do get some mouth pain, you can have a sugar-free Popsicle or some ice chips. There are other rinses available, so talk with your dentist. You don't want mouthwash with alcohol because this can further irritate your mouth.

I found avoiding spicy food and staying hydrated was also helpful. Honestly, only bland healthy food tasted good on my R-CHOP regimen anyway.

At Chia's Silver Lining, we are working to provide comfort, compassion, and community to those going through cancer or other serious illnesses. If you are a patient, caregiver, or friend, Chia's Silver Lining can bridge the gap in medical care to help you focus on the other types of healing.

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