TASTE BUDS WHILE ON DIALYSIS
Changing or losing taste buds is a common complaint among many kidney failure patients. As a patient on dialysis suffering from changing taste buds, you might experience anorexia (poor appetite), weight loss, vomiting, malnutrition, poor immunity, strange taste in your mouth, reduced taste or no taste at all.
TYPES OF TASTE BUDS CHANGES
Abnormally functioning taste buds may manifest as:
- Dysgeusia : Distortion of the sense of taste.
- Hypogeusia : Reduced taste sensitivity.
- Ageusia : Complete loss of the sense of taste.
TASTE BUDS CHANGES VS BAD BREATH
Another complaint that is common among patients on dialysis, yet isn’t caused by changing taste buds, is Halitosis or bad breath. Halitosis in renal failure is caused by accumulation of bad nitrogen (BUN) in the blood.
HOW CHANGING TASTE BUDS WHILE ON DIALYSIS HAPPENS
There are three main mechanisms caused by renal failure and responsible for changing taste buds while on dialysis
- Accumulation of waste products : Kidney and liver are the two organs responsible for removing most of waste products from our bodies and preventing their accumulation. Renal failure lead to accumulation of neurotoxic products that cause nerve damage, which may take place in the very small nerves present in your taste buds and responsible for perception of different tastes, leading to poor appetite.
- Medications and other associated conditions : Kidney failure usually rise as a complication of another health condition and rarely takes place on its own. Medications used to treat disease like hypertension or diabetes can cause taste abnormalities.
- Quality of saliva : The composition of saliva and its enzyme and microorganism content change due to renal failure. These changes negatively influences taste.
HOW TO DEAL WITH AND TREAT CHANGING TASTE BUDS WHILE ON DIALYSIS
Taste buds function as receptor for perception of different tastes, which is a key stimulus for your satiety center; that is the center in your brain responsible for sending hunger signals. Failure of perception of taste causes this center to malfunction, leading to anorexia, undernutrition and weight loss. Therefore, the best action you can take to cope with this issue is to eat four to six meals or snacks daily even if you are not hungry. This way you might still suffer from hypogeusia, but you won’t suffer from its complications. Another way to stimulate your satiety center is through sending visual signal to it. Try to make your food look attractive by adding garnish or placing it on nice dishware. Another thing you can do to avoid malnutrition and weight loss is using calories and protein supplements (if needed). Note that hot foods stimulate the normally functioning taste buds, and since your taste buds aren’t functioning normally, you might find that cold or cool foods taste better.
Taste buds are tiny nerves (sensory receptors) and damage to these nerves is reversible, especially at the beginning. You should try your best to improve your kidney functions, take medications as prescribed, avoid consumption of foods and beverages that depend on kidney for metabolism and follow up regularly with your healthcare provider. Another thing that is very important for you to take care of is your mouth hygiene. Always remember, the best way to control the taste problem is by controlling the main problem itself.