One of the symptoms is pain and this occurs when the mouth and tongue become red, inflamed, and ulcerated. This pain can become so intense that it is difficult for the patient to eat, drink or speak.
The multiple protective barrier functions associated with normal oral mucosa directly affect the risk of acute infection. Normal oral mucosa reduces the rates of oral microorganisms colonizing the mucosa by shedding the surface layer and limits the penetration of many compounds into the epithelium by maintaining a chemical barrier. Normal salivary gland function supports mucosal health.
In the immunosuppressed patient, oral mucositis can be complicated by infections. Some specific organisms may have a role in the upregulation of proinflammatory cytokines via bacterial metabolic products such as liposaccharides. In addition, oral organisms can spread systemically in the setting of ulcerative oral mucositis and profound and prolonged neutropenia.
Mucositis is usually associated with other complications related to the gastroesophageal mucosa, such as:
- Xerostomia (dry mouth).
- Dysgeusia (alteration in the sense of taste).
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).
- Odynophagia (pain when swallowing)
- Glossodynia (burning mouth).
- Esophagitis (inflammation of the lining of the esophagus).
- Gastric disorders (nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite).
- Cachexia (weight loss).