How to Prevent and Minimize Radiation Induced Mucositis
One of the most common side effects of cancer treatment is a condition known as radiation induced mucositis. Mucositis is an infection of the mucosa, which are thin membranes lining bodily passages that come into contact with the air, such as the inside of the mouth and throat. Oral mucositis occurs frequently in patients who receive radiation for head, neck, and oral cancers. If the disease reaches advanced stages, you may end up having to suspend your treatments, so doing what you can to keep it under control is essential.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, there are some practical things you can do both before and during treatment to minimize the chances that you will develop mucositis, and to reduce its severity if you do get it.
The most important thing you can do to prevent mucositis before you start radiation treatment is to make an appointment to see a dentist who has experience treating patients with cancer. If you have any existing cavities or gingivitis, it greatly increases the chances that you will develop mucositis during treatment.
A visit to an experienced dentist will ensure that your mouth is clean and your teeth healthy. If you need to have work done on your teeth, you will need to make sure that it is completed before treatment, and with sufficient time for your mouth to heal.
If you wear dentures, you should also have your dentist check the fit on them. Food particles can become wedged behind dentures, and that can increase the chances that you will get mucositis.
The job of cancer treatments is to destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, those treatments can also damage healthy cells, and the mucosa are especially vulnerable. Here are some things you can do to prevent mucositis, and to minimize its severity if you get it.
- Suck ice chips while you get treatment. This is a simple treatment known as cryotherapy, and it can help keep your mouth moist. Cancer treatments can dry out your mouth, and that can increase the chances of developing mucositis. Make sure to use small ice chips and not big cubes.
- Brush your teeth more frequently than you normally would. Most people brush their teeth two or three times a day. When you are receiving treatments, consider brushing every four hours or so using a soft toothbrush and gentle toothpaste. (Avoid whitening toothpastes, which tend to be very harsh and drying.)
- Floss frequently but gently. Your gums will most likely be sensitive during treatment, and any damage to them may result in an increased chance of mucositis. However, removing food particles is important because they can irritate the gums.
- If your mouth feels dry, chew sugar-free gum or suck on a tart, sugar-free candy. Both options can make your mouth produce additional saliva, which is essential if you want to prevent infection.
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar. Sugar can be inflammatory, and its negative effect on teeth and gums is well documented. Sugar-free candy and gum can be fine, but it’s a good idea to limit the amount of sweets you eat during treatment.
- Avoid other foods that may be inflammatory or irritate the mucosa. Examples include:
- Spicy foods
- Hot foods (hot in temperature)
- Cold foods
- Rough foods (anything with sharp edges)
- Consider taking a supplement of L-glutamine. L-glutamine is the body’s most abundant amino acid, and it plays a key role in cell regeneration. What that means in practical terms is that it can help your body repair the mucosa when it is damaged by radiation. There have been a number of studies that illustrate the efficacy of L-glutamine when it comes both to preventing the onset of mucositis in cancer patients, and reducing its severity. Both things are essential when you are receiving cancer treatments. For radiation to work, you must be able to get your treatments on a regular basis. The longer you can delay the onset of mucositis, the more treatments you can receive. L-glutamine also helps reduce the chances of patients developing Stage 3 or Stage 4 mucositis, both of which can be serious enough to force your doctor to halt treatments while your mucosa repairs itself.Research suggests that the best way to take in L-glutamine is in the form of a powder or suspension. Swishing a concentration of L-glutamine in your mouth before swallowing it allows you to reap the maximum benefits of its restorative effects.
At Healios, we have developed a unique suspension of L-glutamine, combining it with other essential nutrients to optimize its effectiveness and healing power. Dr. Peter Anderson came up with the formula for Healios Glutamine Complex after witnessing first-hand the effects of mucositis on cancer patients. The formula is designed to work with your body’s natural healing process, allowing it to repair the damage caused by radiation and chemotherapy.
The reason Healios Glutamine Complexis so effective is that we have combined it with synergistic ingredients in a time-release formula that coats the mucosa in the mouth and throat. All patients need to do is mix the formula with water, swish it in the mouth for about ten seconds, and then swallow. Dr. Anderson’s years of research have enabled him to arrive at a formula that is both easy to use, and has a pleasant taste.
By following the preventive and therapeutic steps outlined above, you can greatly reduce the chances that you will develop mucositis severe enough to force you to suspend your cancer treatments. In other words, the proper prevention and management of mucositis can both increase your comfort while you are receiving treatments, and also increase the chances that your cancer treatments will be successful. Any suspension of treatment is dangerous. At Healios, we want to make sure that you stay as healthy as possible so you can continue to receive your treatments. Healios Glutamine Complex can help. Click here to learn more.