12 Ways To Battle Metallic Taste From Chemo

by GregP_WN

Most people who are given Chemo will go through periods of bad taste in the mouth , where everything you eat tastes like metal, this is called Dysgeusia (a change in the sense of taste) it may occur during or after cancer treatment.

Bad Taste 

Some foods may taste different than they did in the past, some foods may taste bland, or every food may taste the same. Specifically, bitter, sweet, and salty foods may taste different, and some people may have a metallic or chemical taste in their mouth, especially after eating meat or other high-protein foods. Taste changes can lead to food aversions (dislikes), loss of appetite, and weight loss. Some foods you eat during treatment that taste bad, you never grow to like again. Some smells are that way too. Some patients have said that just the smell of a certain food gives them a flashback of being nauseated and they may never want to eat that food again.

Relieving side effects  is an important part of cancer care and treatment. Talk with your health care team about any changes in taste you may experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

Taste changes are a common side effect of chemotherapy; about half of people receiving chemotherapy experience taste changes . Types of chemotherapy commonly associated with taste changes include cisplatin (Platinol), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar), doxorubicin (Adriamycin), fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil), paclitaxel (Taxol), and vincristine (Oncovin, Vincasar PFS). Taste changes caused by chemotherapy usually stop about three to four weeks after the end of treatment. Some other medications, including some opioid medications (pain medications such as morphine that act on the central nervous system) and antibiotics, can also cause taste changes.

Radiation therapy to the neck and head often cause taste changes because of damage to the taste buds and salivary glands. It may also cause changes to the sense of smell. Because smell and taste are closely linked, changes to the sense of smell may affect how foods taste. Taste changes caused by radiation treatment usually begin to improve three weeks to two months after the end of treatment. Improvement may continue for about a year, but the sense of taste may not entirely return to the way it was before treatment, especially if there is damage to the salivary glands.

Here are some ways to fight back against the metal taste in your mouth.

  1. Try eating foods that are more on the spicy side. The enhanced spices may kick start your taste buds. But be careful of too much spices, if you are on radiation or have sores in your mouth too much spice may burn.
  2. Use plastic eating utensils, and when drinking a canned drink, pour it into a glass this tends to help with the metal taste.
  3. Cold or frozen foods often taste better to those going through treatment. Unless your receiving oxaliplatin (Eloxatin]), which makes it difficult to ingest anything cold.
  4. Many people swear by sucking on hard candy like lemon drops or citrus fruits.
  5. Acidic things sometimes work...lemon or crystal light in water...ketchup or BBQ sauce on meat...minestrone, one person says to put pickles on everything as it will neutralize the metallic taste.
  6. Marinate meats in fruit juices, sweet wines, salad dressings, or other sauces.
  7. Do not eat one to two hours before and up to three hours after chemotherapy to prevent food aversions caused by nausea and vomiting. In addition, avoiding favorite foods before chemotherapy helps prevent aversions to those foods. Your favorite foods may become your least favorite if you try to eat them during treatment and have a bad experience.
  8. Rinsing with baking soda and salt mixture 50/50 before eating may help neutralize the bad tastes, and as a bonus it helps to heal those sores in the mouth.
  9. If the smell is bothering you, use your exhaust fan to remove the cooking odors or cook outside. Or you can buy precooked foods or eat room temperature foods so you don't smell it cooking.
  10. Try other protein sources (such as poultry, eggs, fish, peanut butter, beans, or dairy products) if red meats don't taste good.
  11. Ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes and other extreme sweet foods help many. Sometimes it takes a strong flavor punch to get the taste across.
  12. And lastly it may seem simple but try to eat the foods that smell good and taste good. Try some foods that you may not regularly eat, they may taste good to you.

Getting enough to eat is very important during treatment, it's not uncommon to lose 40 or 50 pounds due to lack of desire, loss of taste, sores in the mouth, etc. So when you find something you can eat, and you like it, go for it. You may get tired of the same thing but it's only for a short time. Most people report that their taste starts to return to normal 3 to 6 weeks after treatment has ended. 

There are also a few different types of mouth spray for metallic taste, that will help your saliva glands work better. One is Metaquil

For more information on combating the bad tastes of treatment, check out these sites.

How We Prepared For Chemotherapy Treatments

Managing Side Effects Of Treatments 

Cancer and Nutrition  

Chemotherapy Experiences of WhatNexters         

Beginners Guide to Cancer        

How Long Until My Taste Comes Back?

Do you have a remedy that worked for you to battle the metal taste in your mouth? Let us know, leave a comment below with what worked for you.                                                                                                                                     

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