Can a stroke cause a metallic taste in the mouth?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Since her stroke, my mother has complained of a metallic taste in her mouth. She says she can't eat because the taste makes her gag. She's lost quite a bit of weight and I'm worried about her. What could be causing this, and will it get better?

Expert Answer

Nerissa Ko is an assistant professor of neurology and an assistant director of the Neurovascular Service at the University of California in San Francisco. She specializes in the care of patients with strokes and vascular diseases of the brain.

Strokes rarely affect taste sensation in isolation, although it's certainly possible depending on the location of your mother's stroke. What's more likely is that one of the medications she's taking is affecting her taste. The first thing I would suggest is that you talk to her doctor about whether her medications can be adjusted so she doesn't have this side effect. That would be an easy solution.

If it actually is stroke related, it's a much tougher problem. It's actually a combination of loss of the sense of smell and the sense of taste, and it's very challenging because nothing tastes good. You may have to supplement her nutrition with very high-calorie foods so she doesn't lose too much weight. Very severe cases may require the use of a feeding tube.