Mucositis (sore mouth or gut)
There are medicines and other treatments that can lower the risk of getting mucositis and help with the symptoms if you get any after blood cancer treatment.
If you’re worried about getting mucositis or think you have it, talk to your keyworker – this is usually your clinical nurse specialist (CNS). If you’re not sure who your keyworker is, check with your consultant or another member of your healthcare team.
Oral mucositis treatments
Oral mucositis can be very painful, so your healthcare team will usually offer you painkillers. These might be tablets, mouthwashes, gels or sprays.
The strength of the painkillers will depend on how much pain you’re in. If you’re in a lot of pain, you may be given drugs containing morphine, which you can take by mouth, as a patch on your skin, or by injection under the skin (subcutaneous injection).
Try to be clear with your healthcare team about your symptoms and the amount of pain you’re feeling, so they can give you the right care. Don’t be afraid to tell them if the treatment isn’t working. There will be other options to try.
Treatments that can help stop you getting oral mucositis and help with symptoms include:
This is an anti-inflammatory drug that contains a local anaesthetic to numb the pain of oral mucositis. It comes as a mouthwash or spray. You may hear it called by its brand name Difflam®.
You may be given antifungal tablets or drops to stop oral thrush developing from an infected mouth ulcer.
This uses low-energy beams of light delivered by a hand-held device. This is placed inside the mouth or close to the outside of the cheek for around 20 to 30 minutes. The aim is to reduce pain and inflammation and encourage healing.
If you have a dry mouth, your healthcare team may offer you an artificial saliva product.
This is a rinse that contains calcium phosphate. It helps by cleaning and moistening the mouth and can be used several times a day.
Sucking on ice lollies while you’re being given high-dose chemotherapy can help to stop the chemotherapy drugs getting to the lining of your mouth. This reduces the effects of mucositis.
GI mucositis treatments
Your treatment for GI mucositis will depend on your symptoms and how severe they are. If you’re feeling sick, you’ll be offered an anti-sickness (anti-emetic) medicine. There are different types of anti-sickness medicines that you can try if the first one doesn’t work.
If you have symptoms of indigestion, your healthcare team may recommend drugs to reduce stomach acid or numb the pain.
If you have sharp stomach cramps, there are drugs that can relax your gut.
For diarrhoea caused by mucositis, you’ll usually be treated with a drug called loperamide. This is the ingredient used in some over-the-counter products. If loperamide isn’t effective, you may be given another anti-diarrhoea drug called octreotide. You’ll usually be given octreotide in hospital.
Symptoms of GI mucositis can be upsetting and hard to talk about, but do tell your healthcare team about your symptoms so that they can treat them. They can also give you things to make you feel more comfortable, such as incontinence pads or pants, or creams to soothe a sore anus.