Abnormal taste (Dysgeusia)

Abnormal taste (Dysgeusia)

Abnormal taste or Dysgeusia is a condition where a person’s perception of taste is altered. Some people have taste changes during or after cancer treatment. This can be described as a disorder characterized by abnormal sensual experience with the taste of foodstuffs, and it can be related to a decrease in the sense of smell.

Foods may taste differently than before, especially bitter, sweet, and/or salty foods. Some foods may taste bland, or every food may have the same taste. You may have a metallic or chemical taste in your mouth, especially after eating meat or other high-protein foods.

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and having mucositis have higher chances of experiencing abnormal taste.

Taste changes can lead to appetite loss (anorexia) and weight loss. It can cause a strong dislike of certain foods, also called food aversions.

How bad is my dysgeusia?

Mild or Grade 1: you may have an altered sense of taste while eating or drinking but no change in diet. Some people may have a metallic taste (a persistent metal, rancid, or sour taste.), a bitter taste, a salty taste, or an unpleasantly sweet taste. Usually you need not visit Doctor at this stage as it can be managed safely at home using the tactics mentioned below

Moderate: Dietary changes along with noxious or unpleasant taste; you may have a taste in your mouth even though you have consumed nothing; food may taste bad. The overall diet can be affected due to unpleasant taste. Removing tge cause of the symptoms will improve the taste gradually.

Keep track of your symptom using Ankr (myAnkr web portal or the Ankr app). It will help you describe the uneasiness to your doctor or nurse.

Severe: No dysgeusia is considered severe. You need not visit Doctor for minor taste changes. The unpleasant taste can be improved by taking measures mentioned below

How to manage symptoms after dysgeusia?

  • Choose foods that smell and taste good.
  • If you are sensitive to smells, get rid of cooking odors. Use an exhaust fan. Cold or room-temperature foods smell less.
  • Eat cold or frozen foods, which may taste better than hot foods. However, avoid cold foods if you are receiving chemotherapy with oxaliplatin (Eloxatin).
  • Use plastic utensils and glass cookware to lessen a metallic taste.
  • Try sugar-free gum or hard candies with mint, lemon, or orange flavors.
  • Avoid red meats. Try protein sources like poultry, eggs, fish, peanut butter, beans, or dairy products.
  • Marinate meats in fruit juices, sweet wines, salad dressings, or other sauce
  • Flavor foods with herbs, spices, sugar, lemon, or sauces.
  • Avoid eating 1 to 2 hours before and up to 3 hours after chemotherapy.
  • Rinse your mouth with a salt and baking soda solution before meals. Mix ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water. It may help stop bad taste in the mouth.
  • Keep a clean and healthy mouth by brushing frequently and flossing daily.

Warning signs/severe symptoms of Dysgeusia that need immediate medical attention

  • Difficulty breathing
  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Loss of weight
  • Other sensory loss, such as sight, hearing or smell

How to diagnose dysgeusia?

To diagnose dysgeusia, your healthcare provider may perform a physical examination and take a detailed medical history, including any medications you are taking or any recent illnesses or surgeries you may have had. They may also perform tests, such as blood work or imaging tests, to help rule out underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to your symptoms.

Your healthcare provider may also perform taste tests to assess your sense of taste and determine the extent and nature of your dysgeusia. These tests may involve having you sample various tastes, such as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, and rating your ability to detect and distinguish between them.

In some cases, a referral to a specialist, such as an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) or a neurologist, may be necessary to further evaluate and treat your dysgeusia.

What caused my dysgeusia or abnormal taste?

How can Ankr help with your Dysgeusia?

You are not alone in the journey of dysgeusia. Use Ankr to:
(1) learn about the common symptoms of dysgeusia
(2) send message to your Doctor if they use Ankr platform*
(3) be better informed about how to prevent another dysgeusia

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