Chemotherapy and radiation therapy to the head and neck can make the lining of your throat inflamed and sore, a problem called esophagitis.
It may feel as if you have a lump in your throat or that your chest or throat is burning. You may also have trouble swallowing. These problems may make it hard to eat and cause weight loss.
Why It Happens
Some types of chemotherapy and radiation to the head and neck can harm fast growing cells, such as those in the lining of your throat. Your risk for a sore throat, trouble swallowing, or other throat problems depends on:
• How much radiation you are getting.
• If you are getting chemotherapy and radiation therapy at the same time .
• Whether you use tobacco or drink alcohol during your course of cancer treatment.
• Eat 5 or 6 small meals or snacks each day instead of 3 large meals. Many people find it easier to eat a smaller amount of food more often.
• Choose foods that are easy to swallow. Some foods are hard to chew and swallow. To help, choose soft foods such as milkshakes, scrambled eggs, and cooked cereal.
• Choose foods and drinks that are high in protein and calories.
• Cook foods until they are soft and tender.
• Cut food into small pieces. You can also puree foods using a blender or food processor.
• Moisten and soften foods with gravy, sauces, broth, or yogurt.
• Sip drinks through a straw. Drinking through a straw may make it easier to swallow.
• Avoid foods and drinks that can burn or scrape your throat,
-Hot foods and drinks.
-Foods and juices that are high in acid, such as tomatoes, oranges, and lemonade.
-Sharp, crunchy foods, such as potato and tortilla chips.
-Drinks that contain alcohol.
• Tell your doctor or nurse if you:
-Have trouble swallowing.
-Feel as if you are choking.
-Cough while eating or drinking.
Other Ways to Manage
• Talk with a dietitian. He or she can help you choose foods that are easy to swallow.
• Sit upright and bend your head slightly forward when eating or drinking. And, stay sitting or standing upright for at least 30 minutes after eating.
• Do not use tobacco products. These include cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco. All of these can make your throat problems worse.
• Be open to tube feedings. Sometimes, you may not be able to eat enough to stay strong and a feeding tube may be a good option. Your doctor or dietitian will discuss this with you if he or she thinks it will help you. If you require a feeding tube, sometimes your doctor or speech therapist will prescribe swallowing exercises. If they do, make sure to do these exercises as directed to keep your swallowing muscles strong.
• Talk with your doctor or nurse. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have trouble swallowing, feel as if you are choking, cough while eating or drinking, or notice other throat problems. Also, mention if you have pain or are losing weight. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help relieve these symptoms. They include antacids and medicines to coat your throat and control your pain.