What is the Metal Taste Left in the Mouth After a Chemotherapy Treatment?
Anyone who has undergone chemotherapy can tell you that the procedure comes with a wide range of unpleasant side effects, some of which can be quite debilitating. Whether they have experienced these effects firsthand or not, most people are familiar with the hair loss that often accompanies chemo, but less well-known are side effects like nerve pain, oral mucositis, digestive issues, and damage to the immune system. One often-overlooked chemotherapy side effect is dysgeusia, also called parageusia – a condition in which a person’s sense of taste is changed. For many people with this ailment, it takes the form of a sour or metallic taste which can linger for days or weeks. What causes dysgeusia, and is there anything you can do to relieve it? Keep reading to find out.
What is Dysgeusia?
For many patients, one consequence of chemotherapy is a change in taste that can have far-reaching consequences on their overall well-being. This condition, called dysgeusia, can arise out of the blue or be triggered by a specific taste, but either way, the result is the same: a disgusting, often metallic taste that can linger on the tongue for days or even weeks.
While this may seem like a relatively minor side effect of chemotherapy, dysgeusia can lead to serious complications. Patients who experience this condition often avoid eating or have little appetite due to the unpleasant taste, leading to nutritional deficits that can force delays in chemo treatments. And there is a psychological toll, as well; those forced to endure the disgusting taste are burdened with an inability to enjoy food at a time when any pleasure, no matter how small, is valuable. Together, the lack of energy from not eating and loss of enjoyment can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life.
The silver lining with dysgeusia is that it is not typically a permanent or progressive side effect, especially if the cause is something that can be easily addressed. Those who experience dysgeusia can expect the symptom to clear up in time, even if severe. If you are concerned about the extent of your changes in taste, it may be worth discussing them with your doctor.
Can Dysgeusia Be Treated?
In the majority of cases, dysgeusia is caused by some underlying factor, which could be something as simple as poor oral hygiene or as serious as chemotherapy. In these instances, the dysgeusia itself can’t really be treated directly; instead, a physician will seek to identify the cause and treat that condition, addressing the dysgeusia in an indirect way. For patients whose taste changes are caused by a necessary and life-saving chemotherapy or radiation treatment, however, clearing up dysgeusia is a bit more complicated.
For obvious reasons, stopping chemo treatments to restore a person’s sense of taste seems ill-advised; no matter how troublesome dysgeusia can become, it doesn’t hold a candle to cancer. Still, there are steps a patient can take to address their issues with taste. A few of these will be explained below, but it is always a good idea to consult with your cancer care team regarding any side effects you may be struggling with.
Even if chemotherapy is the main culprit where your dysgeusia is concerned, it is generally helpful to maintain good oral hygiene practices for chemo to limit its severity. Not only can keeping your mouth clean help to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of dysgeusia, but it can also lower your risk of developing oral mucositis or a potentially disastrous infection. Try using a soft-bristled brush to clean your mouth after each meal and before bed, being careful not to use too much force.
Though it may not completely rid patients of their taste issues, cryotherapy – or cold therapy – has shown a lot of promise as a method of reducing symptoms. One article written by a doctor describes how a patient suffering from dysgeusia used cryotherapy just before each meal and found that it improved their sense of taste.
Cryotherapy for Chemo Patients with Dysgeusia
Despite the lack of solid evidence establishing cryotherapy as a cure for dysgeusia, the encouraging results that have emerged so far combined with its easy implementation means that there aren’t really any downsides to at least trying this treatment. Simply placing something cold in the mouth for about a minute can be enough to cause a positive change in your ability to taste; even something as simple as an ice cube can do the trick.
For more powerful cryotherapy, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ is an excellent option. This easy-to-use oral cryotherapy device can effectively cool your entire mouth by as much as 30 degrees, helping with a number of oral ailments that commonly afflict cancer patients.
Oral Cryotherapy Available from the Chemo Mouthpiece™
Originally designed by an engineer and cancer survivor to combat oral mucositis, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can also be useful to those struggling with changes in taste. If you or someone you know is undergoing chemotherapy and want some help managing side effects, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ may be able to help. Learn more about how the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can benefit you or a loved one by visiting us online or calling (866) 461-7518 today.