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My father has lost 40 lbs in under a month due to his sense of taste. He was hospitalized for two weeks for pneumonia and a bacterial respiratory infection and discharged to SNF. During his hospital stay, he said that everything tasted "awful" or "rancid". Now in the SNF for almost two weeks, that continues and in fact has gotten worse to where he's claiming that everything tastes "like kerosene", even water.


We've raised the concern with SNF that Dad can't rehab properly (the infections impaired his strength and mobility as he was bedridden for two weeks straight) if he continues to lose weight and strength. They seem to treat it as him just being stubborn.


Thanks to Dr. Google, as well as a phone consult with a geriatrician, we've learned that either the respiratory infection or the antibiotic treatment (or both?) might have caused his altered sense of taste. Now that we know the cause (maybe) we need to know how to restore his taste buds to full and accurate functionality. We can't find such info anywhere, and if this continues, Dad will deteriorate to where he'll slip away by Christmas (if not sooner). He's spunky and says he wants to fight to get better and come home, but his inability to eat or drink is "torture" and until that's resolved, he can't really make progress with rehab. Suggestions?

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LDAZCaregiver, when I read that your Dad said everything taste like kerosene, have him check for acid reflux as the acid that comes up from the stomach could have that type of taste. Tomatoes are the worst offenders. Believe me, that happens to me :P
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I'm so sorry you're going through this, LDAZ. I'm in a VERY similar situation and have scoured the internet for help, with no luck. Were you able to relieve your dad's dysgeusia and help him to be able to eat again? My dad won't make it much longer if we can't solve his taste issue. He's 78 years old and has lost over 50 pounds since his condition surfaced following a stroke near the beginning of the year. He says anything he puts in his mouth literally tastes like feces. He barely eats enough (mostly just Ensure) to sustain himself. My apologies this is not an answer, but more a hope you've found something that worked for your dad, and perhaps that something could also help mine. Prayers to you and yours for strength and answers!
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What meds was he taking for CHF?    Our neurologist told us that one med, I think it was Amiodarone, can cause changes in taste.    Sure enough, after raising the issue with our cardiologist, and his determination that another med could accomplish the desired effect, the Amio  (?) was D/'c'ed and taste returned.

You might want to research the meds he's taking and see if others have an effect on taste.
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I was on a medication several years ago and everything tasted terrible, I have a horrible metallic taste in my mouth all the time. A friend has to take Cipro/Flagel for Diverticulitis and one of them makes everything taste terrible too.

Nothing helped to make foods or drinks taste better until I stopped the medication and even then it was a week or more before my sense of taste was fully restored.

One thing that can help with nasty tasting medications (where the medication cannot be in a pill form and tastes terrible) is to eat some raisins before and after taking the medication.
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LDAZ, how old is your Dad?
How well was he before the pneumonia?
Did the altered taste come along with an inability to smell? Was the pneumonia a Covid-penumonia? Is he still on PO (by mouth) antibiotics?
Some aging changes (Lewy's is notorious) comes with some alteration in smell and taste.
What do the doctors say about the long term prognosis for your Dad if he is able to receive proper nutrition? That is to say, is nutrition our only problem here, or one of many? If nutrition and taste ALONE are the big hurdle, it is well worth considering a temporary T-tube for nutritional support (not without problems such as chronic diarrhea, et al) to get past the next month or two, and continue with rehab.
I am so sorry for all you are going through.
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LDAZCaregiver Oct 13, 2020
Dad just turned 90. He was in fair health before the pneumonia. Fully mobile inside the house. Outside with a cane. Shortness of breath from congestive heart failure which was being managed by a cardiologist. In fact, it was at a cardiologist visit that the fluid in the lungs was detected, and Dad was immediately hospitalized. After a number of tests, it was determined it was non-Covid, and that a bacterial staph infection was present. Shortly after hospital admission (and treatment with antibiotics and probiotics) the dysgeusia started. No issues with smell. He was taken off antibiotics prior to discharge from the hospital, but picked up a new infection (again, non-Covid) within a week of admission to the SNF. So he's just now off of the antibiotics as of a couple of days ago.The SNF's doctors have not offered any prognosis at all. The notion is that he's in the SNF for mobility rehab so they're not addressing the root cause impediment to his ability to rehabilitate. Aside from keeping future respiratory infections at bay, the only impediment to rehab at this point is the dysgeusia and lack of proper nutritional support.
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I seem to recall my dad complaining of the same thing while in rehab after breaking his hip! It turned out to be the pain meds he was taking that were wreaking havoc with his entire body. Of course, antibiotics can do the same thing; alter the taste buds dramatically.

Here's what I read about how to revive one's taste buds:

Rinse your mouth with fruit juice, wine, tea, ginger ale, club soda, or salted water before eating. This will help clear your taste buds. You can sometime get rid of the strange taste in your mouth by eating foods that leave their own taste in your mouth, such as fresh fruit or hard candy.

Try cold foods, which may be easier to taste than hot foods.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Brush your teeth before and after eating.

Lemon helps to restore back the sense of smell and taste. It fights the bacterial and viral infections thus makes the nasal passage clear. Mixing lemon juice and honey in a glass of water is an effective remedy to treat this problem. Besides this, you can also try consuming lemon pickle to treat your taste buds.

And finally, here is a medical paper on this very subject:

https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(16)30177-2/pdf

Wishing you the best of luck!
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LDAZCaregiver Oct 13, 2020
Thank you! This is very helpful. I've forwarded these suggestions to the staff at the SNF. I'd have thought Dad's case isn't the first time they're encountering this issue, but it sure seems like it's all new territory for him ... which is why we're looking at home care.
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