If you’re someone who is in chemotherapy or radiation, you might have mouth sores, trouble swallowing, and/or increased sensitivity in the mouth. This often makes it difficult to chew, swallow or get adequate nutrition.
The reason these sores develop is because chemotherapy and radiation target rapidly growing cells, which are usually associated with cancer. But some of these treatments can’t tell the difference between cancerous cells that are dividing quickly and other normal rapidly growing cells. Mouth, and gastrointestinal (GI) cells grow pretty quickly; it’s part of the way our body takes care of itself, so they usually become affected by these types of cancer treatment.
Because the body struggles to keep up with growing new cells and the damage caused by the treatment, it becomes hard for your mouth and GI tract to heal. This process is what results in infections and sores. Hair cells are also quick growing, which is why many people on chemo lose their hair!
The result for many is sores and sensitivity in the mouth and GI tract. In extreme cases, when patients are not able to get adequate fluids and nutrition, they may need to go to the hospital to get fluids, or other nourishment; these types of interruptions can delay cancer treatments and negatively impact their effectiveness.
Whenever possible, we as healthcare providers want patients to follow their treatment schedules as planned. We also want patients to stay as nourished as possible; there is a lot of data showing that if a cancer patient becomes malnourished, it is hard to stick to treatments.
Prevention and early intervention are the best solutions!
The best case scenario is when the patient and healthcare team intervene early to address any issues impacting nutrition intake. This is when Healios® can help. Healios® is a dietary supplement that contains glutamine, an important naturally occurring amino acid that helps damaged cells to heal. By addressing the mouth sores early, Healios helps the patient to continue with good nutrition intake and prevent the sores from getting worse or making it impossible to get adequate fluids or nutrition.
Healios® is specially designed to be absorbed directly at the lining of the mouth, throat and esophagus (it can also help with esophagitis). This is different from other glutamine powders, which are harder for the body to absorb and are digested in the GI tract, similar to how food is digested.
Healios® is something that is not difficult to take, and has the possibility to provide much needed benefit. You simply mix a scoop of the Healios® powder (comes in grape, orange, and unflavored) into water, swish in the mouth for 10 seconds and then swallow. Doing this twice a day is what is typically recommended, preferably after a meal.
At Cancer Services, we provide financial assistance for people who are struggling to pay bills as a result of a cancer diagnosis and treatments. We have purchased Healios® for several of our clients because the healthcare provider recommended it. I had a client in one of my recent cooking classes who shared that it helped her a lot during her treatments.
If you think that Healios® might be something to benefit you, or your loved one, be sure to ask your healthcare provider. You can find information on Healios on their website. You might want to bring information with you to discuss with your provider. Also, you can purchase Healios® at www.enlivity.com, and try it for a month to see if it works for you.