About how long till taste buds return?


I cannot tell you how much I miss eating. Been feeding with peg tube since week 3 of rad. Fortunately my last rad is tomorrow!  It's been super hard watching tv seeing all these food commercials or driving by my favorite restaurants, I crave so much. 

I completely lost my sense of taste from rad and chemo (cisplatin) I know it varies but how long did it take you guys?

I'm hoping my youthfulness will mean faster recovery. 

Anything to help them come back? My doc said 3 months, was pretty bummed. I hate this peg tube and want to enjoy a hamburger again!



  • Bob Watt
    Bob Watt Member Posts: 60 Member
    edited July 2017 #2
    It varies

    Hi MissBlueEyes4Life, my taste buds recovered about 3 weeks post radiation. 13 weeks later I'm eating more regular, but have trouble with bread, scones, and anything that is dry due to the lack of saliva glands. I hope they will recover, but not holding out for them. In the meantime I'm eating most of the stuff I was eating before the treatment began.

  • soonermom
    soonermom Member Posts: 155
    edited July 2017 #3

    My husband just had his 12 week post treatment PET.  We were just discussing today that the return to food is so very different for each patient.  I don't want to discourage you but my husband is not eating hamburgers yet but he wants to very badly.  That does not mean you won't eat a burger next week.  Our goal is to have the PEG out in a month.  My best advice is to be patient and keep trying new foods every week.  My husband has had difficulty maintaining his weight even wiht the PEG tube.  This month for the first time he has maintained his weight.  It sounds like you are not having many of the difficulties he did because you are interested in a hamburger.  When he was at your point in treatment he was just trying to stay alive and he had developed severe food aversions to the taste, texture and smell of foods.  He could not even go into a food store because of smells.  This week, week 12, I have seen more progress than any other week.  It is truly where one day he will not be able to even consider eating a food and then two days later it is something he wants to eat.  Here are examples from this week:  I served him Paul Newman Corn Soup.  He really liked it.  Bonus.  Then he asked me what it was and when I told him he said, "That had corn in it???"  He could not taste the corn, which was the main ingredient.  I made him a smoothie which he could not tolerate because of the strawberry seeds.  What!  Then literally two days later I was out of town and he decided to smoke 2, not one, slabs of ribs and fry potatoes with onions and bacon.  He ate one spoon of potatoes and said they taste like spackle but he has eaten part of one rib every day since.  I took the potatoes and put them in the Vitamix and turned them into potato soup. He loved them then. So, try small amounts of food everyday and don't be discouraged.  Tomorrow will be another day.  My husband was very discouraged but I never have been.  I have always been convinced he will get back to eating something by mouth.  One thing I would have done differently is to have started blending real food sooner.  I had to invest in a better blender because I could not even make a smoothie with real food and know he could eat it because of the texture.  Since I got a better blender, he eats everything I blend for him. I am blending real food or serving him real food he can eat for at least 2 meals a day.  He is feeling so much better since I have been blending real food for him and he is reducing the number of VHC Boosts he is putting in the PEG.  I started out serving him tiny amounts of three different real foods at one or two meals a day to see what he could tolerate.  You can't take it personally if that day the food does not work.  Just keep plugging away.  I fully believe he will have the PEG out in a month.  The Vitamix recipes have been a lifesaver for us.  Tonight in the blender, I put in a real baked potato with skins, an apple with skins, carrots, celery, onions, cheese and spices created a wonderful blended soup my husband loved.  So, thank you Vitamix.  Hang in there you will be eating burgers before you know it.  My husband has not has had one bite of bread, crackers chips since mid treatment.  Today, he went into a restaurant and ordered waffles and ate fresh strawberries and those pesky seeds that were not even blended!  I mean a raw, whole strawberry.  It was something to behold.  Just out of the blue.  He's figured out the only way to get back to eating is eating and eating and eating even if it is only one bite.  He has been eating about 8oz at a time so it is a slow process but we are getting there.  For him, your doc's timeline was about right.  His taste is just now starting to come back slowly, but yours could return sooner.  Good luck.  BTW my husband has never been hungry since treatment started.  He would never eat if he was not on a feeding schedule.  Today he said he was hungry once.  I was so excited.  It is the little things.  

  • CivilMatt
    CivilMatt Member Posts: 4,722 Member
    7 months for me


    Anywhere from one day to never, but probably somewhere in between.


  • Andy13460
    Andy13460 Member Posts: 115
    7 days

    I never used a feeding tube I kept forcing food and shakes in all the way through. Saliva never totaly left Im sitting eating toast and eggs for breakfast as i write this. 7 days after rads taste started coming back I'm 16 days past now and the only thing stopping me eating more is the back of my throat is still very sore. I still think it has a lot to do with how far back the cancer was mine was way down the back of my tongue so I didnt get to much damage to the mouth area.

  • Kskokko
    Kskokko Member Posts: 42
    Eating and taste

    It has been nine weeks since my last Rad treatment.   Taste returns so slowly I can't measure it day to day.   Even week to week the difference is small.  Still, I am tasting more now than in the past.    Like others, the taste improves independent of the saliva, so so food I can taste, but still have difficulty eating.   Dry starches remains my biggest challenge.

    THe ENT says things will be much better at 3 months, so I have nearly a month to go. 

    It is very frustrating - even when you have finished therapy, you have a long way to go. 


  • yensid683
    yensid683 Member Posts: 349
    they return

    but ssssslooooowwwwwwllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyy

    I was the same, after rads nothing had any taste, there was no saliva and I hated the PEG tube.  It took about 5 weeks before I discovered that I could taste the salt in the salt water/baking soda rinse that my RAD ONC had me constantly rinsing with.  I found that sharper and more distinct tastes could be detected, but the taste would fade quickly.  It was 2 months before I could tolerate liquids (Campbells Chicken Soup) and soft foods like eggs and diced spam.  After 3 months things improved quickly, but there were some tastes, temperatures and textures that took a long time to come back.  It was almost a year before I could tolerate ice cream!

    Sour tastes are still not great but I've found ways to make it work.

    it is a common statement with us, but everyone is different, some get tastes and saliva back quickly, some more slowly, and some not so much, but it does come back/

    While I was recovering I'd watch episode after episode of Diners Drive Inns and Dives and I so longed to taste barbecue!

    Hang in there, taste will come back

  • Sprint Car Dude
    Sprint Car Dude Member Posts: 181
    Took me forever.

    2-3 months out I could start to eat Steak cooked medium rare and steamed veggies. I am 8 months out and I am finding new things I can eat almost daily. No pork chops, chicken breasts or spicy things for me. Some days the food I just ate the day before is unbearable. Time heals everything they say. I am patiently waiting.  Good Luck.  I just want to enjoy a beer or shot of Patrone. Some day it will happen. 

  • Joel4
    Joel4 Member Posts: 263 Member
    Slow, Uneven Process

    Mine started coming back after three weeks, but as I approach week sixteen, they are still far off from what they once were.  My buds are probably about 60 to 70 percent back, and I consider that a real blessing considering that not that long ago, things tasted downright weird and even gross.