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The Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC

For Patients & Families
Complications & Side Effects

Sore Mouth & Throat (Mucositis)

Chemotherapy and/or infections can lead to a condition called mucositis. Mucositis is an inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract and can lead to discomfort in the mouth, throat and the passage to the stomach (esophagus).

Mucositis may last for several days and will usually get better around the time your blood cell counts begin to recover. Common side effects include dryness, redness, sensitivity, sores, ulcers, and taste changes.


The soreness in your mouth and throat can make it very difficult to eat. Here are some tips:

  • Inform the doctor/nurse if you develop sores in your mouth.  Medications are available to help you with the pain and the sores.
  • A regular mouth care routine will help minimize the discomfort. You will receive instructions on mouth care from the nurse and staff from the Dentistry Department. Click here to go to Patient Education > Mouth Care.
  • Drink lots of fluids to help minimize mouth dryness. If your mouth is sore, cool or room temperature drinks are often more soothing than hot ones. Try diluted sport drinks, diluted juice and flat sodas instead of plain water.
  • Avoid spicy or acidic drinks such as grapefruit or orange juice if your mouth is sore. Instead, stick to bland foods and juices such as apple or grape.
  • Choose foods that are soft, moist and easy to chew and swallow, such as ice cream, popsicles, smoothies, high protein/calorie drinks, pudding, etc.
  • If you have a mumps-like parotid gland swelling (in the side of the neck) after total body irradiation, you may find that applying ice packs to the throat will help. It may be necessary for your BMT doctor to prescribe an analgesic until the swelling goes away. The swelling usually goes away within 12-24 hours.

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