Taste Problems
after Acoustic Neuroma Surgery

(indented text by AN patients)

The taste fibers of the 7th nerve may be affected by Acoustic Neuroma removal.   Sometimes, the sense taste is diminished or gone altogether:

I lost all taste for food for nearly a year.

In other cases, there is a metallic or salty taste on that side of the mouth.  In some cases, it is just when eating, and in others the taste is present all the time.

I am 18 months post op and have several residual problems including a constant, severe, pressure headache behind the left eye and a metallic or salty taste in the left side of the mouth.

I am 14 months post-op, and I find that when I eat anything dairy (ESPECIALLY ice cream), I have a weird, salty-metallic taste. It runs down the back of my mouth, on the side of the surgery, from top to bottom, as if my sinuses have sprung a leak.

It feels like I have salt water in my mouth all the time. Also this is or something else is affecting my taste buds.

I am post op 3 years and have developed a full time metallic taste.

(4/99) I have had altered taste since my surgery in Jan. 98. It varies from a strong metallic taste to an incredibly salty taste. It is actually worse than it was a year ago, and I think it is probably permanent... Hopefully, I will get used to it, but it's been over a year, and I still am very aware of it.

My Aunt aged 78 had her AN removed in late summer 1997.  9 months later, she still has awful dizziness, tinnitus and dreadful taste in her mouth.

These problems may have a delayed onset after surgery:

(1/99) I have a salty taste in my mouth, which started about six months after microsurgery for my left 1.3 cm AN in Apr 98. I had no side effects from surgery up till that point. At first the taste was more metallic and progressed into an aspirin-like taste and finally to the constant salty taste I have now. My lips are also dry all the time, but I seem to have an excessive amount of saliva which does not make sense to me.  I am also experiencing fatigue which started about the same time as the taste problem.

They can be accompanied by other problems of the mouth, related to facial paralysis caused by surgery:

I have a salty taste in my mouth all the time. At first my lips felt funny. One day I bit my tongue;  it was then I realized my lips had been numb. They are dry all the time.  The saliva is there also... When I eat my eye waters something terrible... It has been five years since I had Translab surgery.

They often go away on its own, but not always:

1.5 years after surgery, my taste is getting back to normal but has a way to go.

My tounge on the right side feels like there's an ice cube melting and regular sensation is coming back slowly.

I had a metallic taste (strong) for about 5 months post-op. Now I seem to have just diminished taste on my effected side. I believe that my current taste reflects a combination of the metallic taste actually dimininshing and my getting use to it.

(3/00) I've had a bad taste in my mouth for over two years now... Sometimes it's a salty, almost burning sensation, sometimes very metallic. Nothing seems to work. It is a nuisance... you just have to learn to live with it. Most of the time it does disappear on its own within the first year. I just haven't been as lucky.

Regarding the metallic taste, I can tell you that mine is still with me (8 yrs post op)

Some foods taste worse than others; ice cream seems particularly problematic:

I had that taste for about 9 months. It really was a nuisance and I learned to live with it. It really reared its ugly taste with ice cream. I just know it went away by itself.

My taste distortion is a reflection of the food I am eating. Early on vanilla ice cream was one food that seem to bring out the metallic taste in my mouth.

Q: What can be done to get rid of the taste?

It is possible that the taste is there to stay, and you have to learn to live with it.   Adjust your diet to avoid foods that taste the worst, such as ice cream, and eat more foods that don't:

Regarding the metallic taste, I can tell you that mine is still with me (8 yrs post op)...  so, I've gotten used to it... it helps to drink fluids... eat juicy stuff, like fruit... and, chew gum...

Tic tacs are an alternative to gum:

When I had the salty/metal/just plain yuck taste, I used tic tacs. I keep them under my pillow, in the car, in my office. Before I went to sleep, I put one way in the back of my mouth, between my cheek and jaw line.  It's there in the morning and I has spearmint dreams all night. I did the same during the day.

Gargling or drinking juices may help to rinse the taste out.

15 years post-op I still have taste problems... gargling with luke warm salt water helps, as does drinking tomato juice or cranberry juice.

Note: Please avoid too much sugary gum or candy; AN patients with facial problems are at a much greater risk for developing dental problems as well, and this will increase it further!

Last Edited: Monday, November 17, 2003