How to Relieve the Metal Taste After Chemotherapy
Though it may seem minor in comparison with some other common chemotherapy side effects, dysgeusia – a condition in which a patient develops an unpleasant taste in the mouth, often described as bitter, metallic, or simply disgusting – is nonetheless a serious concern among cancer patients. Though the exact mechanism by which chemo drugs impact taste has not yet been identified, the simple fact remains that, whatever the cause, patients who experience dysgeusia face a significant dip in their quality of life and can sometimes even become malnourished. So how can you relieve the metal taste in your mouth after chemotherapy? Keep reading as the people at Chemo Mouthpiece™ pass along some suggestions.
What is Dysgeusia?
Dysgeusia, also sometimes called parageusia, is the medical term for a distortion in a person’s sense of taste, and it’s a condition that tends to affect appetite, nutrition, and mood. Dysgeusia may take any one of several forms, from a change in the way a specific flavor is perceived – sweet things taste sour, or acidic things taste salty – to a persistent or sudden unpleasant taste that can ruin a patient’s appetite.
The causes of dysgeusia can be difficult to pinpoint, though chemotherapy is one of the chief factors that can lead to this condition. Exactly how chemo leads to dysgeusia is uncertain; some theorize that the toxic chemicals damage the tongue’s taste receptors directly, while others suggest that it is the secretion of chemo drugs in saliva that creates the chemical or metallic taste. The buildup of toxins in the system after frequent chemotherapy treatments is also thought by some to play a role in dysgeusia’s emergence. It is also possible that other side effects of chemo, such as dry mouth, can cause or compound dysgeusia symptoms in patients.
The effects of this ailment can be dramatic for many patients. When foods begin to taste strange or disgusting, eating can become a chore, leading may patients to skip meals and become malnourished. As quality of life begins to dip and energy begins to wane from a lack of food, patients can face significant weight loss, delays in treatment, and other negative developments. Fortunately, these changes in taste are usually temporary; once chemotherapy ends, the patient’s sense of taste tends to revert back to normal.
Treatments to Help with the Metal Taste Caused by Chemo
Despite the fact that it may be impossible to totally negate the symptoms of dysgeusia while chemo treatment continues, there are certain steps a patient can take to mitigate the severity of this condition. Below are some suggestions for ways you can adapt to your symptoms and turn eating into a more enjoyable experience.
- Alter your cooking to enhance flavors you can still detect; if sweet foods cause a negative reaction, try salty or savory dishes instead. Add spices and seasonings to food if necessary, and don’t be afraid to experiment with meals. Your doctor may be able to perform a taste test that more clearly identifies what flavors you should aim for.
- Alternately, bland foods may work better for those with more extensive changes to their sense of taste. Try to avoid foods with strong smells as well, as this can cause a negative reaction in some patients with dysgeusia.
- Maintain good oral care practices for chemo, as they can help alleviate some of the stronger symptoms of dysgeusia. Rinsing your mouth before meals can help rid you of some of the taste, for instance, and keeping your mouth clean with regular brushing can help as well. Avoid smoking as much as possible, as it can compound issues with taste.
- Use cryotherapy to help restore your sense of taste. A 2009 study demonstrated that patients who use cold temperatures immediately before eating had better responses to food, both during that meal and in the longer term.
How Cryotherapy Can Help with Dysgeusia
While the evidence of its effectiveness may not be iron-clad, oral cryotherapy has nevertheless shown great promise for helping with dysgeusia. The patient in the above study showed a notably improved sense of taste after only one minute of pre-meal cold stimulation; using this type of cryotherapy before every meal led to a marked improvement over a three-month period. Though the patient in this study used an ice cube to chill their tongue, a more effective tool for oral cryotherapy applications is available from the Chemo Mouthpiece™.
With one simple, easy-to-use device, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can cool a patient’s entire oral cavity uniformly. Rather than struggle to keep an ice cube on your tongue to treat your dysgeusia, this unique cryotherapy device can perform the same function with much less effort and more comfort. It is also an effective delivery method for cryotherapy to help prevent oral mucositis symptoms, making it an all-around asset for those with oral issues following chemotherapy.
Oral Ice Pack for Chemo Patients with Dysgeusia
Because the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can offer a powerful, full-mouth chill to help with changes in taste or mouth sores caused by chemotherapy, it is an effective device for combating a variety of chemo side effects, from oral mucositis to dysgeusia. Learn more about how the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can help you or a loved one who is undergoing chemotherapy by visiting us online or calling (866) 461-7518 today.