Inflammation of the mucous membranes (mucositis) can occur in the mouth and throat, in the gastrointestinal area and in the urinary tract. It is caused by infections or occurs as a side effect of cancer treatment. Surgical intervention is not necessary to treat the disease; the symptoms can be alleviated with medication or natural remedies.
What is mucosal inflammation?
The mucous membrane, technically called mucosa, has an important protective function. Thanks to nozzle secretions, the mucous membrane keeps the top layer of the hollow organs moist. See biotionary for What does Coloboma stand for.
There is mucous membrane, for example, in the mouth and throat area, in the gastrointestinal area and in the respiratory tract.
Inflammation of the mucous membranes is an unpleasant, possibly very painful condition.
Inflammation of the mucous membrane can have different causes. It can be triggered by various diseases. A urinary tract infection, an infection of the gastrointestinal tract or an infection of the airways can result in inflammation of the mucous membranes.
It can also occur as a result of cancer-related chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In fact, mucosal inflammation is one of the most common side effects of cancer therapies. The main complication of chemotherapy is inflammation of the oral mucosa, but the mucous membranes in the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary tract, blood vessels or the heart can also be affected.
Since the mucosal cells naturally divide very quickly – just like the cells of a tumor against which chemotherapy is used – the therapeutic agents also attack the healthy mucosal cells. Inflammation of the mucous membrane can be triggered not only by diseases or cancer therapies Inflammation of the gastric mucosa can also be caused by medication, stress or alcohol.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Inflammation of the mucous membrane manifests itself through various symptoms depending on the localization. Inflammation of the gastric mucosa leads to mild stomach pains that become worse as the disease progresses. Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting as well as diarrhea occur at the same time. Heartburn can also develop as a result of the constant irritation.
If the inflammation of the mucous membrane is treated early, long-term health effects can usually be avoided. If there is no or insufficient treatment, there is a risk that the inflammation will develop into chronic gastritis. Inflammation of the oral mucosa initially manifests itself through bad breath, usually combined with a general feeling of illness and fever.
Small, painful spots can form on the oral mucosa. In children and people with a weakened immune system, oral thrush often develops, in which the mucous membrane is covered with a white, sour-smelling coating. General symptoms such as pain, itching or bleeding also occur.
In addition, increased salivation can be observed. The inflammation can affect the entire oral cavity or be limited to certain areas. Inflammation of the intestinal mucosa causes diarrhea and abdominal pain, but also bleeding and cardiovascular problems. Chronic disease can cause permanent damage to the gastrointestinal tract and is often associated with abscesses.
Diagnosis & History
The symptoms of mucosal inflammation have different manifestations depending on the degree of inflammation. In addition to redness and swelling, severe cases can lead to ulcers and bleeding of the mucous membrane.
When the lining of the gastrointestinal tract is inflamed, the two most common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms of inflammation of the gastric mucosa include loss of appetite and a feeling of pressure in the upper abdomen. The diagnosis of inflammation of the mucous membrane is made by the attending physician, who first asks the patient about their symptoms. The interview is followed by the patient’s physical examination. Depending on the localization, this examination is carried out in different ways.
The examination method for oral mucosa involves laboratory examination of a mouth swab. In the case of inflammation of the gastric mucosa, ultrasound and X-ray examinations, in addition to palpation of the abdomen, contribute to the diagnosis. In some cases, a blood test is done. A gastroscopy in the interest of a precise diagnosis is also not uncommon.
If an infection of the uterus or vagina is suspected, a smear test is taken, which is also examined in the laboratory. When making a diagnosis, it is important to determine the severity of the inflammation in order to be able to carry out the right therapy. Timely treatment is of course essential to avoid any secondary diseases.
Depending on where it occurs, mucosal inflammation can cause various complications. Inflammation of the gastric mucosa can develop into a chronic disease. Chronic type A gastritis is associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer. In addition, there is an increased formation of so-called carcinoids in the stomach. Chronic type B gastritis can promote the development of gastric and duodenal ulcers.
The rare MALT lymphomas, malignant growths of lymphatic tissue, mainly occur after type B gastric mucosal inflammation. Chronic type C gastritis also increases the risk of gastric ulcers and gastric cancer. Inflammation of the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat or in the urinary tract can promote inflammation and infections. Here, too, an increased risk of tumor formation is suspected.
In the treatment of mucosal inflammation, the risks mainly come from the prescribed drugs. Antipyretics and painkillers can cause gastrointestinal problems, headaches, body aches and a number of other ailments. Allergic reactions are also not unlikely after taking the appropriate medication. The same applies to the intake of medicinal herbs such as aloe vera, arnica or chamomile. In the worst case, these can exacerbate the inflammation of the mucous membranes.
When should you go to the doctor?
Inflammation of the mucous membranes should always be treated by a doctor. This can lead to serious complications and other symptoms if the disease is left untreated. Therefore, early diagnosis with early treatment has a positive effect on the further course of the mucosal inflammation. A doctor should be consulted if the person concerned suffers from severe pain in the stomach. There is also a loss of appetite and further diarrhea or vomiting.
Many patients also suffer from heartburn as a result of inflammation of the mucous membranes. If these symptoms occur, a doctor must be consulted. A doctor should also be consulted if there is strong bad breath or a high fever. A pronounced flow of saliva can indicate an inflammation of the mucous membrane in the mouth and must also be treated by a doctor. Furthermore, the person concerned should also consult a doctor if there is severe pain in the abdomen.
In the case of mucosal inflammation, an internist or a general practitioner can be consulted. Further treatment is then usually carried out by a specialist.
Treatment & Therapy
Thanks to the achievements of modern medicine, mucosal inflammation can be treated with medication or alternative therapies. An operation is therefore not necessary. The therapy proposal differs depending on the localization of the mucosal inflammation.
In the case of inflammation of the oral mucosa, painkillers and fever-reducing agents, for example in the form of mouthwashes, can be administered according to the doctor’s recommendation. There are remedies that achieve their pain-relieving effect by forming a protective film on the mucous membrane. Natural substances are also available for treatment.
Medicinal herbs such as aloe vera, arnica, comfrey, chamomile, avens and thyme can alleviate the symptoms that occur in connection with the inflammation of the mucous membrane. These herbs can be applied in the form of tea, ointment or a bath. The Schuessler salt potassium sulfuricum (potassium sulfate) also helps with inflammation of the mucous membranes.
To prevent mucosal inflammation, it is generally recommended to sufficiently strengthen the immune system. Since a strong immune system depends on a healthy intestinal flora, it should be supported by a balanced diet. Regular oral care and oral hygiene play a major role in preventing oral mucosal inflammation. Also, one must refrain from smoking and consuming alcohol during the period of stomatitis, as both could lead to further irritation.
Follow-up care depends on how badly and where the mucous membranes are inflamed. The cause of the inflammation also determines the type of aftercare. Inflammation is always associated with pain. Follow-up treatments for mucosal inflammation are primarily aimed at relieving the symptoms.
In addition to pain, this also includes redness and swelling. The medium-term goal is the complete healing of the affected mucous membranes. If the throat area is affected by the inflammation, the patient experiences his or her symptoms particularly intensely when eating. Swallowing the food is often perceived as burning. In addition to pain relief through medication, avoiding hot, sour or spicy foods is part of the independent aftercare.
Chronic mucosal irritations in the esophagus or on the inner walls of the stomach can develop into malignant changes. During regular follow-up care, the mucous membrane is checked for growths. The doctor takes a tissue sample (biopsy) and checks its condition. If acute mucosal inflammation has healed after appropriate treatment, no further follow-up care is usually required.
You can do that yourself
Those affected by mucosal inflammation can simplify everyday life with the disease enormously with a few helpful tips and tricks.
In order to protect the mucous membrane, it is essential to avoid hot or heavily seasoned foods. It is also important not to drink heavily carbonated beverages, as this can irritate the mucous membrane and lead to more serious injuries. Some home remedies, such as chamomile tea, sage, lukewarm soups or healing herbs can help to reduce the symptoms of mucosal inflammation. Especially when it comes to nutrition, low-acid and gentle foods such as rice, potatoes, quark and unsweetened yoghurt should be consumed.
A hot bath and a little relaxation or a walk in the fresh air can also make everyday life much easier when you have mucosal inflammation. Stress and anger only make the inflammation worse and the symptoms get much worse instead of better. If these helpful tips & tricks are followed in everyday life, there will no longer be an obstacle to self-help in everyday life.