advice on how to combat bad taste in mouth and excessive mucus

djgrimm Member Posts: 1
edited January 2021 in Head and Neck Cancer #1

My husband is undergoing chemo and radiation for a Stage 2 HPV+ oropahryngeal cancer. He is taking all nutrition through the PEG tube due to difficulty swallowing and the horrible taste in his mouth. He is also experiencing a great amount of mucus. He has tried the salt, water, baking soda rinse - doesn't seem to help.  Any advice from experience? (include brand names of products please)  Everywhere I look I see a recommendation for sugar free lemon drops, then on this forum I saw someone say they were too acidic. 


  • Logan51
    Logan51 Member Posts: 459 Member
    edited January 2021 #2

    Well, I was G-tube dependent thru my C&R in 2009, and now am for the rest of my life since Aug. of 2019. During tx I only sipped water or did the blessed ice cube thing, and used magic mouthwash. I ignored the bad taste thing and never tried the baking soda, which I had been told about. There is a Biotene oral spray- I have "gentle mint," and I've heard there are other brands, so you might find at a Pharmacy Dept. Hope someone else adds something you can put in your mouth BECAUSE I remember that being mentioned- maybe XyliMelts, but I can't be sure because I never used.

    As is, now, I'm not supposed to swallow anything, but still do the non-carbonated flavored water ice cube thing. Your Hubby is not in the same boat, and is still early in tx. I carry a spittoon with me now, AND remember I did all thru treatment because of the danged saliva that's changed.

    Best of luck to him, and you in helping.

  • wbcgaruss
    wbcgaruss Member Posts: 1,964 Member
    edited January 2021 #3
    Hello And Sorry

    You are having issues with bad flavor and very thick mucous. The thick mucous is part of this treatment and it gets pretty bad as it was choking me at times when I would wake up at night. I just used the saltwater and baking soda mix and would mix it by the quart or 16 ounces but you have to rinse very often with the mucous and bad taste. I mean a lot as often as you feel you need it even every 10, 15, 20 minutes, or sooner. This is something you have to do often to stay ahead of the thick mucous and spit a lot to keep it to a minimum. The only other thing I have read people do on here sometimes is rent a suction machine that has a wand on the end of a suction hose and suctions the mucous out. It is a difficult part of this treatment but it will peak after afterwhile and go the other way when radiation finishes. Just stay ahead of it and that is what they told me about pain also don't wait till your pain gets bad, that is if you have pain with your treatment take pain meds on a schedule to keep it under control. Wishing you the best hang in there-Take Care-God Bless-Russ

  • tktktk
    tktktk Member Posts: 6
    edited January 2021 #4
    Try everything!

    I would say to have him try any and everything. Everyone is so different, so you never know what is going to work for him. I had that horrible mucous filling my mouth for about 2 weeks, but it stopped. I am 3+ months post-radiation and I still have the awful sour taste in my mouth. It only goes away when I am eating something. So I am often eating something, even though what I can eat is still very limited due to low saliva.
    The lemon drops didn't work for me, but I tried. I've heard that dried umeboshi can help, so I'm going to try that.

    I had a really difficult time drinking water during and post treatment. I started with Vitamin Water (so much sugar! and i hadn't eaten sugar for 15 years prior to dx!) and then moved to essenced water. Regular water is still difficult for me, but I do my best!

    Best wishes!

  • DooDad
    DooDad Member Posts: 10 Member
    edited March 2021 #5
    Excessive thick mucus

    When I was troubled with the especially thick mucus, I couldn't even spit it out.  I would try to wipe it out with tissues and finally resorted to using my fingers to pull it out (sorry - it's disgusting).  I searched online and came across sponge toothbrushes or swabs.  They look a bit like a lollipop.  I would dip them in water and use them to wipe the mucus out.  I would swab my whole mouth and it helped so much.  I got mine at Amazon.

    Good luck - Peggy

  • BeagleDad
    BeagleDad Member Posts: 108 Member
    edited March 2021 #6
    Radiation Hack #1

    If you look down the page a bit you will find my 3 radiation hacks.  #1 dealt with this precisely.  First off, let's be sure that all the other responses here are valid in their own right.  I did try the rinses but, good grief, I was rinsing more than I was breathing!  If you read the hack, you will see that I sort of "backed into" this answer.
    We ALL understand what he is dealing with ..heck I am 3+ weeks POST treatment and I am STILL carrying around a spit bucket and hacking up that crap!  (However, far more tolerable now that all the other BS is gone)
    To be honest, my hack did not help me deal with the bad taste, but my period of bad taste did not last very long.  I went from "bad" to "no" taste in about a week.  The Bad Taste time frame was when I first began not eating.  I had held my weight pretty well until that time.  I also had a Gtube.  My wife would mix a chocolate Ensure with water so I could get both nutrition and hydration. 

    I don't have any help to offer for the taste.  But the hack for the mucous worked GREAT for me.  I do not use it any longer due to the side effect - which was my actual PURPOSE for the hack for me in the first place..the loss of mucous WAS the side effect for me!  

    I, and everyone else here, wish you both good fortune during this time and hope it goes quickly for you both.

    Another note ... post treatment, after I got rid of that darned Gtube, I was still not eating my wife used the Vitamix and pureed a can of Campbells Chunk Sirloin Burger soup .... not only could I TASTE (something, not anything in particular), but man did my body perk up after that .... I could not fathom chewing and swallowing the taters or little burgers, but when pureed, warmed up, and in a nice big coffee mug, I drank that and could feel the energy coming back to me.  

    We all hope that something works for you guys.  And I hate to reiterate this, but this is very true, each of our cancers and each of our treatments and "hacks" are different.  Liekj one guy above said, try everything.  Don't buy ANYTHIING in bulk.  I still ave 34 little puddings in the cupboard and 12 jars of canned chicken soup in the freezer.  LOL  What "works" or "tastes OK" today will fail tomorrow or taste horrible.  It means a lot of trips to Walgreens or the grocery store, but that is just the way this crap is.  

    Please stay with us here and let us help .... it is something we ALL want to do.

    Don (Beagledad)