You aren’t imagining it: If you think your mouth tastes salty or metallic from your acoustic neuroma surgery, you’re correct.
Most people who’ve had surgery for an acoustic neuroma, who are suffering from an alteration in taste sensation, would agree that a metallic taste is much worse than a salty one.
This alteration may affect how food tastes as well, and not just the inside of your mouth.
“Most people consider the primary function of the facial nerve to be the motor functions because it is responsible for the movement of most of the muscles of the face,” says Gene Liu, MD, MMM, and Chief, Division of Otolaryngology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Group.
“Injury to the facial nerve can cause paralysis or weakness of these muscles and have a significant impact on social interactions, ability to close the eye and keep the eyeball moist, movement of the cheeks and lips for eating, and just about anything else involving the face,” explains Dr. Liu.
“Branches of the facial nerve also carry taste information from the front of the tongue. During surgery for acoustic neuroma, any manipulation or trauma of the nerve can also result in altered taste sensation like a salty or metallic taste or even decreased taste sensation.”
Is There a Treatment for a Salty or Metallic Taste from Acoustic Neuroma Surgery?
Dr. Liu says, “Unfortunately, if this happens, there is not much that can be done from a patient or surgeon standpoint.
“Fortunately, in many cases, the taste issues will slowly improve over a few months whether the nerve was manipulated or even potentially cut.”
Thus, there’s always a chance that a metallic or salty taste will go away over time.
An acoustic neuroma is a rare, slow-growing benign mass that arises in the inner ear canal and can threaten hearing if it gets big enough.
Sometimes, the only treatment is yearly imaging surveillance for tumors that are small and asymptomatic.
Dr. Liu’s clinical areas of focus cover a broad range including surgery of the head and neck, sinuses and thyroid, and disorders of the ears, salivary glands and vocal cords.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.