What is Mucositis?

Mucositis is an inflammatory condition of the mucous membrane that lines the digestive tract such as the mouth, throat, and anus. It is a common side effect of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other medical treatments. Mucositis can cause pain, redness of the lining of the mouth and throat, ulcers, bleeding, swallowing difficulties, and poor nutritional intake. Severe cases of mucositis can lead to infection and life-threatening complications.


Mucositis is caused by the destruction of healthy cells from chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This destruction of cells can cause inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membrane. Other medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, can also cause mucositis. Mucositis can also be caused by certain medications and poor oral hygiene.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment for mucositis depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Prevention of mucositis can include:

  • Good oral hygiene including brushing and flossing teeth at least twice a day.
  • Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol, as these can aggravate mucositis.
  • Mouthwashes containing antiseptic to help reduce infection.
  • Painkillers to help manage pain.
  • Topical creams or gels to reduce inflammation.
  • Oral nutrition supplements to provide nutrition when taking in food is not possible.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements to help promote healing.


Complications of mucositis can include infection, dehydration, poor nutrition, and difficulty swallowing. If left untreated, mucositis can cause life-threatening complications such as anemia, sepsis, and organ failure.