Sore Throat / Difficulty Swallowing

Radiation treatment to the head and neck may cause a sore throat, making it difficult to swallow. These symptoms will usually subside shortly after treatment is completed. The following tips will help control the discomfort.

  • To make foods easier to swallow, add moisture such as sauces, gravies and dressings.
  • Eat foods that are soft and cut into small pieces. Chew well.
  • Include foods that are high in protein and calories but are soft and smooth. Examples: pudding, custard, ice cream and milk shakes, cooked cereal, mashed potatoes, Jello, yogurt and macaroni and cheese.
  • Foods that are room temperature are easier to swallow than at extreme hot or cold temperatures.
  • Chew Aspergum 30 minutes before eating. ALWAYS rinse mouth with water after chewing Aspergum to prevent cavities.
  • If you have pain medication, take it about one hour before you eat.
  • If swallowing becomes difficult, tilt your head back so that the food goes to the back of your throat before swallowing.
  • AVOID a liquid diet, soft smooth foods are easier to swallow and will not cause choking or gagging. See above for examples.
  • AVOID spices such as pepper, chili powder, nutmeg and cloves.
  • AVOID hard, dry foods such as crackers, nuts, chips, pretzels and raw vegetables.
  • AVOID citrus fruits and carbonated beverages. Carbonated beverages can be decarbonated with a pinch of salt.

** Rinsing your mouth regularly with a salt solution (1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 quart water) helps prevent infections and improves healing of a sore mouth and throat. **

** Also, if soreness persists, the Dr. can write a prescription for "Magic/Miracle" mouthwash, which can aid to numb the throat. This medication should be taken before each meal. **