Taste Buds Gone

My 70 year old wife is ten months post op. We have solved many of her problems she had, even the reflux problem has been solved after trying many meds. However the thing that upsets her most is the fact that most foods feel slimey and unable to taste them unless they are pronounced taste such as Marmite. I fear her taste buds have been destroyed by the aggressive Chemo. I would give anything to solve this problem for her and restore her quality of life after all she has endured. Anyone solved a similar problem?

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  • A fair number of people have this problem. It is the effect of the medication and possibly the surgery, probably connected with saliva, and might for some also be connected with a bit of inner tension and worry.

    Make sure that she keeps drinking water in sufficient quantities and maintains good oral hygiene. The taste buds very often do get restored but there seems very little rhyme or reason about when it happens. The delay of 10 months is not unusual. I know of one lady for whom hypnotherapy made a difference, but I am not sure why that should be so. Appetite and looking forward to eating is quite often related to smell, which 'tickles the taste buds' sometimes. So some people try an appetiser (like a small sherry) before meals.

    Some of it is trying to restore the mental process of regarding eating as something that is part of one's quality of life rather than something, for perfectly understandable reasons, that creates some anxiety. It does take a long time to gradually get over all the traumatic experience that you have both been through, but this does normally resolve itself, often by having a chat with a trained counsellor at one of the cancer centres.

  • Hi, I must confess I have since discovered it's not the taste buds but the saliva glands that have been damaged. Her mouth gives her no end of worry (to the point of tears) as it feels as if every thing is slimey. In addition to this she complains that her teeth hurt. The oncologist has replyed to a letter from our GP stating that it is ' atypical' and she has 'no experiece' of chemo causing what we now know as 'dry mouth'. She has tried so many gels and tablets too no avail. If anyone has any advice I would be most gratefull as the medics seem to have given up.

  • The only thing I can suggest is to try Macmillan Support as the Late Consequences of Treatment team may have some insight.

    Also the possibility of cancer specialists / nurses in the neck and jaw area as I have heard of patients with this sort of cancer having similar trouble.

    I do think persevering with keeping the mouth clean and moist might have an eventual effect.

    It is very dispiriting and I hope that some relief will be forthcoming.

  • I had this problem after my surgery as if there is not enough to deal with recovering list endless. So hard having to force your self to eat it does come back with time marmite might be too strong painful! I found the tongue very sensitive used cold ice, natrul yoghurt anything sooth it. Time will be a healer your wife will enjoy and taste things again wish you both all the best it will get better!!

  • I had an oesophagectomy 3 years ago and I lost my sense of taste too. I never thought it would come back but it did, it took 18 months though. It is difficult to eat when you have no taste, it doesn't make you look forward to a meal. Try to relax and not worry too much about it, hopefully in time it will come back. I wish you all the best

  • I have had similar experience .I like stir fry with a little chilli and curries ,"Blue" cheese etc

  • I had my op in 2012 and my sense of taste seemed to take a year to start returning and it has continued to do so gradually. It's as if the senses are having to learn again following their disablement during chemo, the op etc. My physical strength and mental outlook have followed a similar pattern. It's a slow process and the timescale seems to vary between us on this site. All the best to everyone for 2017!!!

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