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Chemo and Taste Buds

Posts: 117
Joined: Jul 2009

I've been through 4 A/C treatments and 3 Taxol with one more to go. It's probably the least important side effect I've had to deal with, but I haven't been able to taste anything since shortly after my first treatment. Eating has gotten so boring that I don't really care if I do. The good news is I've lost some weight! I'm just wondering from others who might have been throught this too - how long does it take for your sense of taste to return?

VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9085
Joined: Aug 2009

Nothing taste good, no favor. Breads hurt my tongue, when eating it feels like sandpaper on sandpaper. I am unable to taste any spices. It's been difficult to cook for my family. I have them sampling dishes before serving. I am worried abt not getting enough nutrition in my body.

I have also lost weight .. good news for me.

Waiting to see responses.


Posts: 598
Joined: Sep 2009

Yes food is tasteless. 4 ac, 1 Taxol 3 2 go. Oncs never really adress it, sooo? I taste sweet pretty well. I like carnation instant breakfast w chocolate syrup. Question, does this cocktail make u gain wt? After tx, I usually drop at least 5lbs and have 2 force food 2 gain back to orginal wt (120) before next tx. Guess I can't answer the lack of taste. sorry : {

tjhay's picture
Posts: 655
Joined: Oct 2008

Ok girls
I had the food tasting problem when I did chemo, what I ended up doing was juicing, beets are very good for you blood, potaoes will keep you sodium at a good level. Vegtable juice is best for you and there are many recipes on line that you can find, If you do juices be careful cause it can effect you blood sugar level and that can run high during treatment.
I also drank things like boost and insure, I perfered the boost to the insure, plus boost has a hi protine kind.
This is what i did, and i worked for me. Just an idea, esp since all you have to do is gulp it so you dont have to endure tasting somthing for a long period of time like when you actualy eat food.

Cat64's picture
Posts: 1192
Joined: Aug 2009

As tj said, my doc recommended Boost saying that it had the best taste. Also suggested blending it in with some ice-cream. (that's a good idea!) Yum! Haven't done the Chemo yet so I haven't tried any of the suggestions on here yet. But, I'm sure I will soon enough.

Posts: 25
Joined: Jun 2009

Didn't need to worry about losing weight so didn't do the liquid stuff. What I did find was that spicier, stronger flavored things tended to cover up that yucky metallic taste in your
mouth. However, this didn't work so well when I had a mouth full of sores. Also found
that cold sandwiches with fresh tomatoes were my comfort food of choice. This is funny
'cause I never was a bread eater, but smelling food cooking was the pits. My kids are grown so my husband ate frozen dinners quite often. Bless his heart, he never complained.
Phenergan was hugely helpful.
Just finished 35 radiation treatments yesterday and I feel FREE! FREE! Before that my chemo
took from Sept 08 to July 1 this year to finish so I can finally GO SOMEWHERE!!! Now if my brain would just come back . . .

lanie940's picture
Posts: 492
Joined: Jul 2009

Well, I've had Shingles twice, and while taking prednisone everything tasted like metal except lemony things, like lemmon merangue pie. LOL And prednisone is a steroid. So, maybe its the steroid giving the metal taste.

TraciInLA's picture
Posts: 1994
Joined: Jul 2009

I'm on a different chemo cocktail than you, but I'll share what works for me, in case it gives you any new ideas that may help you out...

I'm doing Taxotere/Cytoxan every three weeks. For the first two weeks after each chemo, I have the full range of taste problems: I usually get cotton mouth at first, and can't taste much at all, then "progress" to where everything tastes like metal.

The only reliable "food groups" that always taste okay to me are fruit, cheese, and chocolate, so I eat a lot of those. When I can't taste much at all, like Carol mentioned above, oftentimes spicier food (like Mexican) tastes better -- I remember someone else on the board mentioning Thai food for the same reason.

When everything tastes like metal, my biggest problem is trying to drink plain water -- I found Crystal Light is just a godsend at that point. I don't really like the taste of full-strength Crystal Light, so I sprinkle just a few sprinkles into my water glass -- it works SO well to cover up the metallic taste.

Hope some of that helps you out,


VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9085
Joined: Aug 2009

I too can not take plain water. So I found this trick helps me.

sprinkle into water ..

apple juice
cranberry juice .. good for bladder etc
'pink' lemonade - I purchase minute maid pre mix/made .. regular lemon flavored nasty
large pitcher of water ... 5 slices cucumber and 2 orange slices
large pitcher of water .. blueberry, or strawberries .. about 1/2 cup will do it
lipton tea ... purse size pouches .. 4 varies .. similar to crystal light.

I'm going exotic this afternoon with grape juice in my drinking water ...

I've been chewing gum to keep that nasty metallic taste at bay. Gum regular flavored has helped me. 1/2 stick


padee6339's picture
Posts: 765
Joined: Jun 2009

It took about a month to a month and a half for my taste buds to start waking up again. During chemo everything tasted like cardboard to me, and food just wouldn't go down. Bread was the worst. My Mom stayed with me through the whole treatment plan and at least three times a week would make soup. Although I couldn't taste much, the vegetables would sort of slide down without me having to chew. I couldn't chew anything without getting sick. At least we knew I was getting the nutrition I needed. The doctor told me to try Ensure if it would go down. It wouldn't. So the soups worked the best for me.

I lost about 60 pounds, at least 40 of which have returned because now I'm just hungry all the time. I had hoped my loathing for bread would stay, but my love for it came right back!
I hope you find what works for you!

outdoorgirl's picture
Posts: 1569
Joined: Apr 2009

be the fast food queen and then had chemo which fried my taste buds! Funny thing was that I preferred healthy and or bland foods then(plain pasta with nothing on it,vanilla yogurt with frozen blueberries,homemade soups with not too much sodium,etc.). I love take out Chinese(especially cashew chicken and General Tsos-sorry spell check,don't even want to try on that one!!),but made the mistake of ordering a "light"veggie dish one time thinking that it would be easier on my taste buds-it had no taste at all even with my fried taste buds!You guys are right,bread was not my friend back then-I didn't have enough saliva and it just rolled around on my tongue-frustrating because I usually like toasted cheese sandwiches,and I couldn't eat those then.
Nice thing is that after your treatments are over-for me it wasn't until the end of rads,your taste does come back!!You just have to give it time.

Posts: 2515
Joined: May 2009

I had Cytoxan/Taxotere. My taste buds left the day after chemo and returned 6-7 days later....I never had metallic taste,but nothing HAD any taste. I may as well have been eating Alpo! ....One week I lived on tomato and cheese.........I could taste that....then one week I lived on watermelon..that worked really well, I could taste it and it gave me the liquids I needed....I tried everything, those worked for me. The reason the taste buds leave is because they are made up of rapidly dividing cells, which is what cancer is and so the chemo attacks them, also. Plus I have learned that your taste buds replinish themselves every 10 days..........learn something new every day!

I also used baking soda and salt water to rinse my mouth every 4 hours when possible, was told that helps, it seem to help me and a RX mouthwash called Nystatin.......that was really good, it sort of numbs your mouth and for some reason it helped for a little while with the taste bud thingy!

Hope you get "em" back soon! Oh and the weight I lost during those week.......I FOUND IT AGAIN! IT"s back!

Posts: 117
Joined: Jul 2009

Wow, you guys never cease to amaze me with all your support! I'm just glad to know that eventually it will come back. I was beginning to think I'd never taste anything again!

Water makes me nauseous too so I pretty much drink lemonade (Crystal Light is my best friend too!) and water with a little bit of cranberry, apple or pomegrante juice in it - with ice. Everything goes down easier if it's cold. Orange Juice sometimes but it has alot of sugar. I can still taste chinese food and caesar salad dressing. I put rice vinegar on my veggies so I will taste something when I eat. And of course the yummy lemon bars that they have in the kitchen of the infusion clinic. It's the highlight of chemo!

I have one more chemo to go next week and then it's on to rads so I think my new goal will to be to hopefully spend Thanksgiving being thankful for my tastebuds! Debbie

tasha_111's picture
Posts: 2081
Joined: Oct 2008

I finished chemo in May 2008 and my taste buds are still screwed up. The tip of my tongue is constantly sore and burning and the back of my tongue carries the most horrible taste. I can now taste some foods and even enjoy them, It's just a case of working out what is tolerable and what tastes vile. I am not sure after all this time if mine will ever return to normal. I hope you don't have this reaction. Hugs Jxxxxxxxxxx

Posts: 8
Joined: Sep 2009

The doctor warned me everything will have a "metallic taste" funny thing was everything to me did not taste that way...everything tasted too sweet!! it made me nauseous...I had to have mint balls in my purse to get rid of that taste. after my third treatment, things started to get somewhat normal. I had yogurt, salads and a lot of water. Speak with your oncologist, they will be able to recommend something for you, or even let you know when your taste buds will ease down. Mines did. Good luck, take care & God Bless...

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2012

Hi, I have done four of my six taxotere/cytoxan treatments. After each treatment, I hate to eat for a week to ten days. My tongue feels burned, and my entire mouth feels like sandpaper. Water is terrible. Creamy stuff tastes the best, especially cold stuff. popsicles are great ways to get some fluid and they taste decent. I have found that fruit juices and chinese food go down halfway decent. I think it is the strong garlic flavor in the chinese food that makes it taste better. Just try to eat enough to keep your strength up and your body nourished. I figure this too shall pass!

ksf56's picture
Posts: 203
Joined: Apr 2012

I'm finished with treatment but I clearly remember the taste or lack there of. I had 4 AC treatments and 12 Taxol. I had chemo mouth thru most of it. I had sores and pain during the AC and a sore tongue and taste buds that failed me during Taxol. Most food was tastless or tasted weird. I got a lot of tips from the staff at the drs office but most didn't help me. I had to push myself to eat and I had no imagination with food at all. I do know that macaroni and cheese worked pretty well - I normally love it too. Syrup tasted like licorice - so I learned by mistake not to pour things on food - to dip first. Once I was done with Taxol, it came back gradually but faster than I expected. I'd say it was within the first month I noticed improvement. I lost 20 lbs. during treatment.

I hope your taste buds get reactivated pretty soon! It's a heck of a diet, isn't it? I wouldn't recommend it.

Good luck!

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