Sore Mouth or Throat

Northwest Montana Radiation Oncology
Some people undergoing cancer treatments may have a sore mouth, mouth sores or a sore throat. These problems are usually caused by certain chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy to the head and neck area.

If you have these problems, eating soft, bland foods and lukewarm or cool foods can be soothing. Also, rinsing your mouth routinely with a salt and baking soda solution (one teaspoon baking soda and one teaspoon salt mixed in one quart water) helps prevent infections and helps your sore mouth and throat feel better.

Advice for a Sore Throat

  • Avoid tart, acidic or salty foods and drinks, such as citrus fruit juices (grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime), pickled and vinegary foods, tomato-based foods and certain canned broths that contain acidic ingredients.
  • Avoid rough-textured or hard foods, like dry toast, crackers, chips, nuts, granola, and raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose lukewarm or cold foods that are soothing. Very hot foods can cause discomfort. Try freezing fruits and suck on frozen fruit pops, fruit ices or ice chips.
  • Stay away from alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.
  • Avoid irritating spices like chili powder, cloves, curry, hot sauces, nutmeg and pepper.
  • Season foods with herbs like basil, oregano and thyme.
  • Eat soft, creamy foods like cream soups, cheeses, mashed potatoes, yogurt, eggs, custards, puddings, cooked cereals, ice cream, casseroles, gravies, syrups, milkshakes and canned liquid food supplements.
  • Blend and moisten foods that are dry or solid. Mix them in with soups or sauces, gravies and casseroles.
  • Avoid using mouthwashes that contain alcohol (which will cause burning).
  • Puree or liquefy foods in a blender to make them easier to swallow.

Advice for Mouth Sores

  • Eat soft, bland foods like creamed soup, cooked cereal, macaroni and cheese, yogurt and pudding.
  • Puree or liquefy foods in a blender to make them easier to swallow.
  • Serve foods cold or lukewarm, rather than hot, to reduce mouth irritation.
  • Tilt your head back to help foods and liquids flow to the back of the throat for swallowing.
  • Drink through a straw to bypass mouth sores.
  • Avoid irritating spices, seasonings, and condiments like pepper, chili powder, cloves, nutmeg, salsa, pepper sauces and horseradish.
  • Avoid rough, dry or coarse foods, which can scratch an irritated mouth or throat.
  • Eat high-protein, high-calorie foods to speed healing.
  • Avoid alcohol, carbonated beverages and tobacco.
  • Rinse your mouth often with a baking soda and salt mouthwash (one quart water, one teaspoon baking soda and one teaspoon salt, mixed well before each use) to help keep your mouth clean and make you more comfortable.