Radiation causing food to taste rancid.

vhalphen Member Posts: 1 Member
edited May 15 in Head and Neck Cancer #1

Hubby is having radiation to both sides of his neck. He just completed treatment 19 of 25. When he first puts food in his mouth, he can taste it and then as he chews it, he says, "It taste rancid or like a dirty wet gym sock" He does not have any mouth sores, just a very inflamed throat with a little white on it. Oncologist says it is not thrush. Basically, he is barely eating because when the food gets in the back of his mouth or when he chews it. The taste makes him feel nauseas. So, he is using high calorie protein shakes and other high calorie drinks. He does manage to eat a piece of chicken or something daily. He says he can handle the discomfort of swallowing, but the saliva taste is awful. I am looking for any remedies that have helped any of you. He starting weight was 189 now he is 176.


  • wbcgaruss
    wbcgaruss Member Posts: 1,774 Member

    vhalphen welcome to the CSN H&N discussion board. This is a common problem with H&N treatment and radiation and chemotherapy can both affect taste. People going through this experience a bad taste such as your husband or many times what is more common is no taste at all. Either way, it leads to difficulty eating and getting enough calories in. I myself experienced the no-flavor situation where I would describe food tasting as cardboard. I know how hard it is to eat with no taste and I can imagine it is equally as bad or worse with bad taste. What I did and recall others on this board doing is just knowing how many calories they needed to have to maintain their weight and just chewing and swallowing and forcing it through. And the person needs to keep in their mind they will have to do this as a temporary situation to get them through their treatment and the time this affects them. It is one more part of this treatment that is not easy. Also, you can choose certain foods, use plastic utensils, or eat foods cold. Below is a link that gives an explanation of what is going on and further down the page some tips on dealing with this. Also, talk to your care team if you find the need or if he is losing too much weight. Also, search this on the net and you will see tons of info ("Radiation causing food to taste rancid.")

    Take Care, God Bless-Russ

    Another Link--


  • SuzJ
    SuzJ Member Posts: 418 Member

    Make very high calorie shakes, I did Boost, with carnation instant breakfast (always strawberry ) with protein powder, ice cream, banana, strawberries, ice, can add cream - toss it all in the blender, its around 900 - 1200 calories, and it takes a while to drink.

    It wasn't the taste of the food, it was the smell - I could smell everything!

  • RobbT
    RobbT Member Posts: 17 Member

    My wife made cream of wheat and mashed potatoes all the time as it did get hard for me to eat and swallow with the radiation I chased that down with high power ensure and was able to keep some weight on. That was 6 years ago now and my taste buds are different still and things I liked I don’t know and visa versa. But I mostly eat everything that I used to. Hang in there.