FOUL MOUTH: Scottish researchers found that tooth brushing lowers the risk of heart disease. Tooth loss also can signal osteoporosis. (istockphoto)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- A new study headed by the Mayo Clinic found that using an oral rinse of doxepin, an antidepressant, may help suppress the excruciating pain of mouth sores that can result from cancer treatment.
"Oral mucositis or mouth sores is a painful and debilitating side effect of radiation therapy," says Robert Miller, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Mayo Clinic and leader of this study. "Our findings represent a new standard of care for treating this condition."
Doxepin, a drug normally used to treat with people with anxiety, depression and insomnia, targets the central nervous system and heightens the levels of specific chemicals in the brain. Side effects from narcotic pain medications will not occur with this rinse, according to Dr. Miller.
In the study, 155 patients undergoing radiation therapy for certain head and neck cancers that developed painful oral mucositis (mouth sores), were either given a blinded dose of doxepin or a placebo on day one of the study. The next day, the next study group received a dose of the oral rinse. The level of pain caused by the sores was measured on a scale of 1 to 10 at timed intervals after the doxepin rinse. After rating their pain at five, 15, 30, 60, 120 and 240 minutes after the rinse, 64 percent of the patients chose to continue use of doxepin.
Overall, patients responded well to the doxeprin, aside from side effects of stinging, unpleasant taste, burning and drowsiness.