Pain on swallowing

Odynophagia is pain that occurs during the ingestion of food, liquids or even saliva. It can become very intense if accompanied by sores or ulcers (mucositis). It usually appears during radiotherapy treatment but can also appear more occasionally during chemotherapy or other associated treatments. The dietary-culinary recommendations are very similar to the recommendations for mucositis, as these are two symptoms that frequently coexist. In general, it will be necessary to pay attention to and modify the texture of food in order to maintain a healthy intake.


  • When the pain is mild, eat food with a soft texture or that is easy to swallow (stews, soups, caramel puddings, soft cheeses, ripe and sweet fruits, overcooked pasta and rice, very tender fish, and meat), cook foods until they are soft and accompany them with sauces, broths or juices to facilitate swallowing, especially those that are drier. Cut the ingredients into very small pieces and chew them slowly.

To avoid irritation and discomfort, use non-irritating toothpaste and soft toothbrushes and dental floss.
Rinse your mouth throughout the day with chamomile, thyme, or bicarbonate infusions.

Choose small-volume meals and foods with high nutritional value. Try to maintain intake and remember the importance of ensuring a complete and adequate diet.


  • Alcoholic beverages, coffee, carbonated drinks and other acidic or irritating soft drinks (cola drinks).
  • Acidic foods (tomato, raw pepper, kiwi, lemon, orange, strawberry, tangerine, mango, pineapple, vinegar, pickles…).
  • Very spicy, seasoned, or salty foods.
  • Dry or hard foods (crusty bread, toasted bread, breadsticks, nuts, rusks, dried fruits, dry biscuits, crisps, dry or very mature cheeses, and battered or gratin type cooking).
  • Sticky foods (mashed potatoes, croquettes, bananas, chocolate, etc.).
  • Fibrous foods such as some grilled meats.
  • Try to eat food cold or at room temperature, as heat can irritate the mucosa and cause more intense pain.

Drink around two litres of water, herbal teas, non-acidic fruit juices, broths, jellies, ice lollies… If it is painful, take small sips throughout the day and use a straw to direct the liquids to the less painful areas.

Keep lips moisturised with lip cream or olive oil to prevent chapping and dryness.