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Head & Neck Radiation Recovery

Posts: 18
Joined: Jan 2004

I had 30 radiation treatments for a tumor in my neck, which ended 6 weeks ago. Since that time, my hearing has gotten worse and I had to have a tube inserted to drain that ear. Also, I still have ulcers in my mouth, which come and go. One doctors told me I would be fine by now - another tells me it is a rebound effect. Has anyone had this problem and how long did it take to resolve itself. I don't know what is worse -- the muted hearing or the mouth ulcers? No improvement has come and I am wondering if I will be partially deaf forever? No doctor wants to touch the answer to that question. Any help in what to expect would be desperately appreciated. Thanks, Karen

Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

During and after radiation, my hearing was the other way. Any noise above a whisper bothered me. This went away over time, maybe 2 or 3 months. I don't know if it was a side effect of just the radiation or a combo of the radiation and chemo.

As far as the mouth ulcers, those took several months to go away. Foods high in sodium and spicy foods bothered them the most. So I would stick with relatively low sodium (salt) foods to see if eating is any better.

Posts: 42
Joined: Apr 2001

I had cancer 6 years ago and had tubes placed in both ears 5 1/2 yrs ago. I have had them replaced a few times (they can fall out depending on the type) Did your ENT check your hearing after the tubes were put in. I can usually tell there is dramatic improvement right away. Occassionally (the last few day most recently) I have some fluid build up that makes it hard to hear. It will last a few days (with draining) and then go away. If is persist or hurts I'll see the ENT and get ear drops (antibiotics) to clear it up.
Be patient with the mouth situation. It will clear up soon. I had mouth sores during chemo and the doc prescribe "magic mouthwash". It helped enough so I could swallow, but numb so that eating was a strange experience. My post radiation experience was severe and I was hospitalized once for dehydration and vomiting. By the fact that you were able to post this message I would say you are doing better. Hang in there. It is a slow process. Let the docs know about your problems and maybe they can help. It may take a few months for things to calm down. I was told that the side effects from radiation don't peak until 2 weeks after treatment ends.

steviet's picture
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2003

nckaren.......I had 9 weeks of radiation; will be 6 years ago this Fall. We all seem to have different problems from the radiation. I had no ear problems, but lots of mouth and throat issues. It is so destructive! amr2662 is right about recovery taking a long time. It took me over two years to gain back the 40 pounds I lost w/ the treatments. Be patient; things will get better, but it will surely take some time. I will never be without some problems caused by my radiation, but those problems are quite managable. The big issue is getting rid of the cancer. Things will get better for you. I wish you the best. Steve

penny2001's picture
Posts: 9
Joined: Nov 2001

I have a friend that I met here at Cancer Survivors network who has the same identical cancer as I. He said that after he was radiated, his hearing was really bad. I believe that it took him about 7 to 8 months for that problem to correct itself. You may visit my website at Penny2001 here on the network. You have thrush mouth ( yeast infection ). It comes and goes many times during the radiation process. It has been 3 years for me, and still, once in awhile, I will get it. You have to take diflucan ( not sure of the spelling ), but your doctor will know what to give you. Usually after only 4 pills, it will go away.

Posts: 20
Joined: Jul 2004

What is the "magic mouthwash" you are refering to. My husband is in the middle of his radiation treatment and is having lots of mouth sores. Thanks for the info.

Posts: 23
Joined: Jul 2004

Some doctors and dentists call it magic swizzle. It really works, I work for a dentist we use it all the time for mouth ulcers!Good luck & God bless

Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2012

I as well have had problems with my hearing either being muted or at times super sensitive. I get the darn mouth blisters or now I have a mouth that feels on fire after or during eating. Ugh I do wish this part would get better. I was eating more but have gone back to drinking protien drinks again. I think it is hard for doctors to give a time frame on the healing part. Things are different for everyone and we won't get the answers to that unfortunately. Sondra

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Welcome Sondra...

You might want to start a new thread and introduce yourself and all...

This thread was actually started (and last replied) nearly ten years ago...

Best ~ John

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2016

i am now 25 weeks post radiation and wondering if any of you had the pie crust tongue do to the swelling of it that pushes your tongue against your teeth, also my taste buds are only about 20% maybe? Just wondering if I have something to look forward to, lastly still a lot of hanging flem in back of throat that just seems to not want to go away, I am down about 20#s from where I used to be, I call it the new me, Drs seem to think I am cured, another pet scan in a month, I had 28 rads with 6 chemos for tonsil cancer hpv 16

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4336
Joined: May 2012


Welcome to the H&N forum, sorry that you are here, but I understand your issues.

My tongue has never felt like it did before, but it is livable. In some ways, my tongue feels just like I just finished rads, kind of tingly. I don’t know about pie crust, but it certainly dries out.  That is why I use xylimelts every night.

My taste and feel buds were totally screwy for 7 months, but are now fine (new normal).  I enjoy most things as before along with a few new food friends.

Not to take anything away from you, but the cure date is normally around 5 years post.  Those who make it 5 years may have been cured at 1 day post or like you 25 weeks post. 

As Skiffen mentioned above, you may want to start a new thread for optimum response.


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