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Patient Care

Esophagitis is the difficulty swallowing caused by inflammation of the esophagus and may be a side effect of radiation therapy to the head, neck, and upper chest area. You may have temporary discomfort because of pain, swelling, or dryness of the throat. The severity of the esophagitis can affect your nutritional intake, so it is very important you begin consuming 2,000+ calories a day to help maintain your weight and protein intake. Usually the symptoms subside soon after radiation therapy is complete. Some self-care measures include:

  • Stimulate swallowing and increase saliva by sucking on Popsicle's, lollipops, bits of crushed ice, or a piece of cheesecloth soaked in ice water or juice.
  • Eat a liquid high protein diet supplement thickened with ice cream to ensure an adequate protein and caloric intake. Custards and puddings are easy to swallow and are good protein and caloric supplements.
  • Eat frequent small meals (six/day). Solid foods should be cooked until tender and may be moistened with gravy, mayonnaise, salad dressing, sauces, sour cream, or yogurt to ease swallowing.
  • Include applesauce, cold liquids, cooked cereals, strained cream soup, Custard, soft-cooked eggs, ice cream, gelatin, milkshakes, mashed potatoes, pudding or sherbet in your diet.
  • Rather than having liquids with your meals, try beverages that are thick or have a milkshake-like consistency (they are safer to swallow).
  • Avoid spices such as pepper, chili powder, nutmeg, curry, cloves, caffeine, alcohol, and hot fluids.
  • Avoid acidic fluids or juices such as Orange juice, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, lemon or lime juices and tomato based fluids.

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