Eating When You Have a Sore Mouth or Throat


Chemotherapy can cause sores in your mouth and throat. These sores can become infected by yeast, bacteria, or viruses in your mouth. Chemotherapy medications can also make mouth tissues dry or irritated and cause them to bleed. Sores and dry mouth tissue can make eating painful. Even your favorite foods may irritate your mouth.

If you have mouth sores, ask you doctor for a medication to apply directly on the sores; don't use over-the-counter applications unless you check first with your doctor. Use lip balm if your lips are dry. And if your mouth is very dry, ask your doctor about using artificial saliva products. Learn more about the causes of a sore mouth and throat and medicines that can help.

What to do if you have a sore mouth or throat:

  • Eat soft, bland, creamy foods high in calories and protein, such as cream-based soups, cheeses, yogurt, milkshakes, pudding, ice cream, or commercial liquid protein supplements. If you're only able to eat a little without pain, eating higher-calorie foods will help give your body enough energy. Eating a teaspoon of cold sour cream (mix with vanilla extract and a little sugar if you don't like the sour taste) will soothe and "coat the runway" (your food tube, the esophagus), making it easier for other foods to go down.
  • Soak your food. Soak cold cereal in milk so it's soggy when you eat it. Soak rice and pasta in sauce so they're tender. Soak your toast in your egg yolk before you eat it. This will be less irritating to your sore mouth.
  • Chop your food. Chop up your meat, poultry, or fish into small pieces or put it through the blender. You can mix it with a sauce or low-fat gravy.
  • Eat cooked vegetables and canned fruit. Raw ones may hurt your mouth. You can also put fruits and vegetables through a blender.
  • Eat chilled foods such as popsicles, applesauce, flavored gelatin, and sherbet. The coolness is soothing to a sore mouth.
  • Avoid tart, acidic, or salty foods. Stay away from citrus and tomato-based foods. They can sting open sores.
  • Avoid rough foods such as dry toast, pretzels, and granola. They can be irritating to a sore mouth.
  • Avoid spices that can irritate a sore mouth such as chili powder, curry, and hot sauces.

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