Changes in taste and smell may happen due to chemotherapy, infection or xerostomia (lack of saliva)
Chemo therapy induced changes to taste are reversible but, may take several weeks. However, Radiation therapy induced changes can be permanent. Some of the symptoms are intolerance to meats, increased bitter or sweet sensations, as well strange tastes like metallic or “gamey” tastes between meals.
There may be heightened sense of smell that may cause sensitivity to food preparation, aversion to perfumes or soaps may also happen.
Tips for management:
- Serving foods cold instead of hot may help.
- Regular rinsing with a baking soda solution (1 tablespoon baking soda in 1 quart water) will help with taste changes.
- Avoid mouth washes containing alcohol.
- Use plastic utensils instead of stainless steel to help with the metallic taste.
- Try adding mint to milkshakes or oral supplements that may taste too sweet.
- Fresh or frozen foods may taste better than canned foods.
- Sip on liquids or suck on ice chips throughout the day. Aim at 8-10 cups fluid/day.
- Marinades and spices can be used to mask the strange tastes.
- Add lemon, lime, or vinegar to foods that taste too sweet.
- If unable to have meat try another protein source, like dairy, soy products, eggs or poultry.