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Bad tasting saliva/upset stomach
4 Posts
Hi all,

We are in the early days of a mouth cancer diagnosis for my dad. Currently, we are in the process of getting scans and consultations done in Toronto. Unfortunately, my dad has a pretty bad infection in the side of his mouth. Because of the location of the infection, my dad has quite an awful taste in his mouth which is making his stomach upset and in turn, causing him quite a bit of nausea and a lack of appetite (though he feels better when he eats). It is making his day to day difficult as he's often sick - he's trying to keep working now because we know he'll be off soon. I'm pained to see him this ill now, when I know what lies ahead...

Has any one else experienced this? Any tips on how to ease the stomach or offset the taste would be so helpful. We've got the typical gingerale, crackers, etc. going.

Thanks so much,
9 Replies
2439 Posts

@LZ91 Hello…..May I suggest…..touch base with the Dietician, at your dads' hospital….perhaps they can suggest foods/drinks, that will help him, ease stomach upset, even saliva concerns…..I will “assume” they know/can help/direct you, if needed….

Perhaps a soothing Tea/Green Tea….not too hot, if temperature bothers him…would a bland-flavour of soup, help? Broth?

I am not an expert…..but wanted you to know….we are listening…we care……and I hope your dad gets relief soon.

Keep sharing…..let us support you, and your dad.


Cynthia Mac
3982 Posts

Hi, @LZ91 - have the doctors offered anything for the infection? I’d think they’d want him on an antibiotic to get that infection cleared up.

If you can’t get him to the doctor, try the dentist - they might be able to get him in faster.

He might try some of the mouth rinses - often a baking soda or salt and water solution to see if he can keep from ingesting some of the infection, particularly for 5-10 minutes before meal time. If he can do that every time he goes near a sink, that might help quell some of it.

4 Posts

Thank you, @Cynthia Mac and @Whitelilies.

We do have antibiotics on the go for the infection. We will see our family doctor on Monday for this issue as well. Thank you for the suggestions - bone broth is a great idea and we hadn't tried green tea yet.

We are trying to get him to rinse with salt water today to see if it helps, but before mealtime or whenever he enters the kitchen is a good idea.

Thanks so much to you both.

It's hard to watch a loved one suffer. @Whitelilies and @Cynthia Mac gave some great suggestions. I'm glad to hear that he is already taking something for the infection and is seeing the doctor on Monday. Here's my 2 cents if it helps.

Biotene rinse was my go-to thing to help my mouth. Even after cancer treatments it still helps my mouth or it gets too dry. From a tea perspective chamomile tea might be gentler on the stomach than green but each person is different. The other thing to worry about when you are struggling to eat can be your electrolytes getting out of balance. I used to drink a noname gatorade sort of thing or a meal rereplacement drink might help to get your dad over this hump.


2116 Posts

Welcome @LZ91 - If you have not tried an antinausea med like gravol it should help. I have also used slices of ginger and apple in boiled water with honey. Ginger helps with an upset stomach and may help with with bad taste. Your local pharmacist would also have suggestions of what works best with the antibiotic he is taking.

I’m going to tag @law1 who may have more suggestions as she has dealt with tongue cancer.

Wishing you and your dad the best as he moves forward with treatment.

731 Posts

Welcome Caregiver @LZ91. @Trillium tagged me after reading your post about your Dad, and @Whitelilies also posted for you. Quite a few wonderful folks on this website are familiar with my journey when I had basal tongue cancer and I, too, had awful challenges with taste, smell, swallowing, several oral infections, and the worst of it was 9 months of excruciating open blisters on my tongue…which looked like the surface of the moon! Almost 4 yrs later, I still have difficulty with maintaining a nutritional diet, as most taste is negligible, fruit tastes like a saltlick, and sweetness is the only real enjoyment I ingest.

I do gargle with salt water and baking soda mixed together…several times a day, before and after meals, and following brushing my teeth. I don't use alcohol mouthwashes as they dry out your mouth, and set my throat on FIRE. Crackers and ginger ale often aid my nausea or heartburn, but the crackers are often too dry to swallow, they induce gagging, so I try to eat yogurt instead. Sweetening it with honey may assist your father's bitter taste, and, I have read in Cancer-related cookbooks that adding lemon juice to meals can reduce bitterness…..with mouth infections the acidic lemon may actually cause more pain to your Dad.

Have you inquired with a Nutritionist/ Dietician, or a Speech Pathologist at your Cancer Centre?…they often consult for taste issues and resulting nausea. There is a wonderful toll-free Cancer Society Help Line as well---1-888-989-3333 which has oncology-trained staff who listen and can suggest aids for you as the caregiver and for your Dad as well.

Some people choose to keep a journal of this “ cancer journey” as it can help your medical team with pertinent issues. And, feel free to post updates for us to read.

4 Posts

@cancertakesflight, @law1, @Trillium

Thank you all for the thoughtful suggestions. I am taking them all down and we will start to work through them. My mother-in-law works at a pharmacy and is going to pick up some biotene for me tomorrow! I am so appreciative for you all taking the time to share what has been helpful (and in some cases, not helpful). We haven't yet accessed any resources through the oncology department, but will certainly start.

@law1 thank you for sharing more about your experience. Where are you on your journey now? It sounds like you had to endure a lot (understatement, I know… struggling to find the right words). May I ask if there was anything in particular that helped you persevere/cope? Everyone in these chat boards sound so strong and resilient, it is actually a bit intimidating. Thinking ahead to what's to come, we are trying to be positive and just put our heads down and get it done, but to be honest, it is terrifying and I keep thinking about how we are going to tackle this and get to the other side. I know we will, because we have to and that's all there is to it, but there's certainly some mental strain around it.

Thank you all again for your kindness.

1725 Posts

@LZ91 thank you for sharing your story with us. Your dad is lucky to have you in his corner.

I had different cancer than your dad but like @cancertakesflight I used Biotene mouthwash and also the spray form. It is light, moisturizing and has a nice light mint taste. It is not at all like regular mouthwash. Your dad may find it helps his mouth feel better and also help with the yucky taste in his mouth.

I hope you continue to reach out and lean on us for support.

731 Posts

Hi @LZ91

It must be a struggle for both of you as you have posted, and I am so cognizant of the issues. Cancer is a tough go and I recall always asking my doctors and pathologists how to get through each day and night enduring such hard times. Honestly, if your father isin pain-- he must explain it to his doctors. Pain management is quite possible and needs to be a regimen. The doctors are very cautious about which drugs will work and they are monitoring the patient.

I did mark each day on my calendar with a big ‘X’ just to tell myself that I was getting through it and thee was light at the end of the tunnel. Reading, watching interesting documentaries and good comedy shows helped take my mind off myself. Additionally, you may want to introduce your Dad to the available Publications by searching the link at the bottom of the page here. Reading about tongue cancer and other Head and Neck cancers is illuminating. Have you searched for the links? At the top opf these pages is the category of Forums, then select Types of Cancer, and scroll down to Head and Neck. The stories and posts are very helpful.

A selection of loving friends often helps one tolerate and identify the small blessings still in one's life. Please use the resources at your Cancer Centre and keep us in the loop as to your status and that of your Dad as well.

I have been cancer free since New Year's, 2019….however, it took until a few months ago for me to begin to feel like I was eating and acting more like a healthy person: emotionally, physically, and I accept the life altering feeling of fatigue daily as well as excusing my momentary forgetfulness which often occurs after radiation…..keep on as best as you can.

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