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Chest Radiation Therapy Care

Swallowing difficulty

We recommend that you eat foods that are soft and moist. They are easier to swallow than foods that are firm and dry. Try using gravies and sauces to moisten dry foods. We recommend eating smaller meals closer together. For example, try six smaller meals spread throughout the day.

Liquid antacids before meals may help, particularly if you are having trouble swallowing or if you have a burning sensation when you eat. You may have trouble swallowing your tablet medicines. Before crushing them and putting them in a teaspoon of ice cream or other soft food, please check with your pharmacist. Alcoholic beverages and cigarettes will irritate your throat, so avoid them.

Also avoid highly seasoned foods, foods that are tart or sour, or foods that are very hot or cold as these may irritate your throat. It will be easier for you to swallow foods served lukewarm or at room temperature.

Dry or sore throat

Use a humidifier or vaporizer in your bedroom or main living area. Do not smoke cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Do not chew tobacco. Drink plenty of fluids, preferably four to six eight-ounce glasses per day, unless contraindicated by your doctor. To increase saliva, try sucking on sugarless mints or lemon flavored candies. They will help keep your mouth moist.

Mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in eight-ounces of warm water. Gargle with this solution several times a day. Do not use over-the-counter mouthwashes. Due to their high alcohol content, they will cause more dryness and may be irritating.

Persistent cough

Your nurse or doctor will advise you on the use of cough medicines. If you have a lot of phlegm, make sure you are drinking enough fluids. Extra fluids help keep the phlegm thin so you can cough it up easier.


You may notice that you feel unusually tired during the last weeks of your treatment. This is an expected side effect. We recommend you pace your activities and include frequent rest periods to avoid becoming overtired. Skin care

See "Caring for Yourself at Home While Receiving Radiation Therapy - Skin Care."