Home > Health > Loss of Taste after Tonsillectomy

Loss of Taste after Tonsillectomy

The loss of taste after a tonsillectomy procedure may be an uncommon complication, but in reality, it is a very serious one that can change the quality of life of those who undergo the surgery.  Therefore, it needs be addressed and acknowledged by all ENT doctors.

loss of taste after tonsillectomy

Importance of Taste

The sense of taste is very important for our health and well-being of our daily lives.  For example, it provides information as to whether the food is safe and okay to eat – spoiled, too salty, too sweet, spicy, sour, etc. Taste also provides a gateway that triggers the pleasure senses in the brain to help cope with daily stressors – both mental and physical stress including pain.  Thus, taste is a function that has a great impact on all people and their social well-being.  Some jobs even depend on taste.  Frankly, the importance of taste is underestimated because most take it for granted.  (People never realize how important something is until they lose it.)

Tonsillectomy – Indications and Complications

Tonsillectomy is the most common surgery performed by the ENT doctor.  A vast number of tonsillectomies are performed on young children.  However the numbers of adult tonsillectomies are increasing.  The American Academy of Otolaryngology has published tonsillectomy guidelines.  Here is a list of some trouble indicators with regard to the tonsil:  enlarged tonsils that obstruct the breathing airway, problems with eating, sleep disorders and cardiopulmonary complications.  Tonsillectomies are also indicated in people who have frequent inflammation of the tonsils.  It is sometimes performed as an elective procedure in people who have persistent problems with bad taste and breath despite other less invasive measures.

{Before any type of surgical procedure is performed, it is important that the patient understand what it is and what complications can occur during and “after” surgery.  There are currently three types of procedures where studies have revealed complications in loss of taste:  middle ear surgery, tonsillectomy and dental procedures.}

All doctors know that the most common complication of tonsillectomy is bleeding.  About 2~3% of patients experience this and in some cases, death (1 out of 40,000) has even resulted because of post-operative bleeding.  There are other complications such as acute pain in the ear, prolonged pain, a protracted healing process and dehydration that results from poor nutrition and low fluid intake.  However, few doctors if any take note of temporary (or even permanent) change or loss of taste after a tonsillectomy.  Very little literature has addressed this important problem.

One reason that a loss of taste with regard to tonsillectomies is not widely known is because taste is a subjective matter.  Taste is different from one person to another.  In order to scientifically acknowledge that there is a taste problem after a tonsillectomy, tests must be performed on each patient before and after surgery.  However, there is no standard test where taste can be clinically determined.  One must create an assesment using different concentrations of salinity and sugar to measure sensitivity.  For this reason, there will be substantial costs added to the surgery due to extra labor expenses.  Nevertheless, this type of complication must be addressed to patients during their pre-op tonsillectomy interview not only to inform them but also to protect the doctor.  (There may be a liability problem because surgical techniques and skills are involved.)

Why Does Loss of Taste after Tonsillectomy Occur?

There are 3 cranial nerves that contribute to taste: VII, IX and X.  For tonsillectomies in particular, the lingual branch of the IXth cranial nerve (aka. glossopharyngeal nerve) has been hypothesized to be the culprit [1].  The lingual branch in some people was sometimes shown to “adhere” to the tonsils, which are separated by connective tissue only 1~2 mm thick.  In a prospective study by Stathas et. al., tonsillectomy entailed a temporary reduction in taste function. Their finding attributed loss of taste to [2,3]:

1.  direct or indirect intraoperative damage of the glossopharyngeal nerve or

2.  unintentional extension of the lingual nerve by application of the tongue retractor [4]

Other studies show that while damage to the taste nerves will decrease the sense of taste, mild damage can actually intensify taste and smell sensations to the nerves that were not damaged [5].  A different study suggests that damage to the tonsillar branches of the glossopharyngeal nerve and the soft palate should also be considered as a cause of post-tonsillectomy dysgeusia (loss of taste). [11].

As one can see, there is no single body of data explaining the loss of taste during a tonsillectomy.  Further studies are needed.  As a result, improved surgical techniques and anatomical knowledge about this situation may be crucial in preventing the complication of loss of taste after a tonsillectomy.

What Loss of Taste Do People Experience?

The four basic areas of the tongue that define taste are:  sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness.  Each area of the tongues exhibit a preference.  Consequently, the degree of loss or change in taste varies widely between each individual.  Depending on the type of damage, some people experience a decreased sweet taste while others have increased bitterness and some an overall metallic taste.

Will I Get My Taste Back, and How Can I Help Speed the Process?

Recovery of nerve damage of any kind is a very slow process.  Furthermore it is dependent on the extent of damage to the nerve.  The fortunate news is that most sufferers from tonsillectomies will get their taste back within 3 months.  There are also some who get back their taste even after one year.  The important thing is to not give up.

There are studies showing that loss of taste in general is associated with zinc deficiency [8].  There are also  studies showing improvement of taste by taking zinc supplements [9].  One may wonder whether taking zinc supplements helps in alleviating the loss of taste caused by iatrogenic conditions – physical damage to the nerves by the operator.  The answer is “yes,” it will help.

Zinc is a trace element which is essential to humans.  It is a vital nutrient for growth and cell division, fertility, immune system function, vision, skin, taste, smell and appetite.

The National Institutes of Health  (NIH) has published recommended zinc dosages that have been used for hypogeusia (when sense of taste is abnormal).  The range of dosage for zinc was 25~100mg by mouth.  Since zinc has many food and drug interactions, consult your physician or go to the NIH website (click here) for specifics [10].  Zinc supplemental tablets can be typically found in many supermarkets.  A dosage of 25 mg of zinc per day would be a good place to start since many therapeutic studies start with 25 mg.  However, make sure that you take it with food! – (But avoid taking it with coffee.)  Taking zinc daily for at least 2~3 weeks should foster some improvements.  Some common side effects are nausea, vomiting, stomach-ache and a metallic taste in the mouth.  Other supplements possibly helpful in nerve recovery may be vitamin C, E, magnesium, folic acid, B6, B12 and DHA/DHEA.

After a tonsillectomy procedure, many people lose weight because they cannot eat well due to post-operative pain.  Also, care must be taken concerning the kinds of foods that are eaten to prevent the surgical stitches from coming loose.  During recovery, the patient cannot eat a “balanced diet” so that nutrient deficiency may occur at a time when vitamins and other trace elements are needed the most.  Eating well (soft foods) and taking vitamins (or giving soft gummy-bear vitamins with DHA to children) will help prevent malnutrition and in turn speed up recovery.  On another note:  ice cream is always the prescribed food after surgery.  Not only is it soft, but its coldness also brings down the swelling and constricts the surrounding blood vessels in the throat to prevent bleeding.

Unfortunately many who are reading this post may already have a change in taste due to a tonsillectomy.  So as I have mentioned before, it is important not to give up and stay positive.  Moreover, it is important to eat carefully and eat well during the recovery period.   Taking vitamin supplements (C, E, folic acid, DHEA, etc.) along with zinc supplements will help speed up the recovery process.  And remember that a delayed recovery is a possiblity.

Tonsillectomy and Children

Adults have the power to speak and identify if they experience a loss of taste.  Children, on the other hand, are at a severe disadvantage.  I am willing to hypothesize that there are far more cases of loss of taste due to tonsillectomy in children since the main pool of tonsillectomies are performed on younger children.  Furthermore young children have naturally smaller mouths.  Thus, surgical intervention in tonsillectomies are more intricate and difficult since the surgical view is smaller versus an adult.  And children who do experience a loss of taste will not be able to voice their problems strongly because they are represented by their parents.  Children are also not as persistent or articulate with their communication and parents may simply brush it off.  Also, some doctors who perform the surgery do not understand the gravity of the situation and merely explains that more time is needed to heal and that everything will be alright (which is only partially true).  Therefore, parents must take a more active role as guardians of their children before they consider a tonsillectomy or any other medical procedure for that matter.   Parents need to be extra vigilant during the recovery time of their children and must not take lightly their children’s complaints.  After surgery, pain indeed will “mask” the loss of taste or more accurately a change in taste.  However, after a 2~3 week recovery period, the original sense of taste should come back.  Clearly, the importance of taste is critical to the future lifestyle and well-being of the child.

The good news is that children are very resilient, and recovery from any kind of physical injury will usually progress better than with an adult.  This statement alone gives hope that children who are faced with a loss or change in taste will recover quickly in time.

The loss of taste after a tonsillectomy is a complication with serious ramifications in the health and well-being of the individual.  Yet, there are very little scientific literature addressing this issue.  Fortunately, most cases are resolved over time, and taking vitamin supplements (especially zinc + B12) will help.  There is no current literature addressing the loss of taste associated with tonsillectomy in children.  While there is increasing awareness in adult patients, it is time to focus on children as well.

References and Additional Readings:

  1. Uzun C, Adali MK, Karasalihoglu AR. Unusual complication of tonsillectomy: taste disturbance and the lingual branch of the glossopharyngeal nerve. J Laryngol Otol. 2003;117(4):314-317.
  2. Stathas T et al. Taste function evaluation after tonsillectomy: a prospective study of 60 patients.  Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2010 Sep;267(9):1403-7. doi: 10.1007/s00405-010-1224-0. Epub  2010 Mar 13.
  3. Ohtsuka K, Tomita H, Murakami G. Anatomy of the tonsillar bed: topographical relationship between the palatine tonsil and the lingual branch of the glossopharyngeal nerve. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. 2002;546(546):99-109
  4. Laryngoscope. 2012 Jun;122(6):1265-6. doi: 10.1002/lary.23270. Epub  2012 Mar 27
  5. Bartoshuk LM, Catalanotto F, Hoffman H, Logan H, Snyder DJ. Taste damage (otitis media, tonsillectomy and head and neck cancer), oral sensations and BMI.  Physiol Behav. 2012 Nov 5;107(4):516-26. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.06.013. Epub 2012 Jun 21.
  6. Bartoshuk LM, Catalanotto F, Hoffman H, Logan H, Snyder DJ. Physiol Behav. 2012 Nov 5;107(4):516-26. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.06.013. Epub 2012 Jun 21.
  7. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2010 Sep;267(9):1403-7. doi: 10.1007/s00405-010-1224-0. Epub  2010 Mar 13.
  8. Goins MR, Pitovski DZ. Posttonsillectomy taste distortion: a significant complication.
    Laryngoscope. 2004
  9. McDaid O, Stewart-Knox B, Parr H, Simpson E.  J Hum Nutr Diet. 2007 Apr;20(2):103-10. Dietary zinc intake and sex differences in taste acuity in healthy young adults.
  10. Heyneman, C.A.,  Zinc deficiency and taste disorders, Ann. Pharmacother., 30 (2)186,1996
  11. Scinska A, Jodkowska A, Korkosz A, Kukwa W, Sienkiewicz-Jarosz H. J. Post-tonsillectomy dysgeusia with weight loss: possible involvement of soft palate. Laryngol Otol. 2008 Feb;122(2):e5. Epub 2007 Nov 30.
  12. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/982.html
  13. http://www.zinc.org/info/zinc_essential_for_human_health
  1. Joyce
    October 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    It’s been almost 5 weeks since I had my tonsils removed. The pain was bad but the loss of taste along with bitterness to everything I try to eat is awful! Haven’t had more than one or two bites of something a day. I have gagged on some. The constant nausea is intense. I was not informed that this was a possibility. Had I known I don’t know that I would have had the surgery. I have lost 15 pounds and can’t see an end to losing weight as long as I can’t taste.
    My advice to anyone who asks: DON’T do it!

    • Delia Holmes
      February 25, 2016 at 11:39 am

      I had my tonsil out nov 20th and I can not taste nothing.very frustrated I hardly eat I drink but can’t taste what I drink either.gonna b 4 months I hate it

      • Jodie
        February 25, 2016 at 7:58 pm

        It’s now been four years since my tonsils were removed and I still can’t taste anything except salt. The doctor says this is permanent.

      • Alejandro Hernandez
        September 5, 2016 at 2:58 am

        Hi, I got my tonsils removed on July 11 2016 because I had chronic tonsillitis, I have the same experience than everyone. Almost two months since the surgery and I have no taste of what I eat, my question is Delia Holmes, since November, 2015 you got the surgery until now September, 2016 . did you get back the taste? Thank you.

      • Jodie
        September 5, 2016 at 5:33 pm

        It’s been over 4 years and my taste has not returned. Apparently this is extremely rare and it return for most people within 6 months.
        I was told mine has been so long that it won’t return. It is very depressing and has a huge affect on your life.

      • snowflake
        May 18, 2019 at 3:02 pm


        Do not give up hope. I am 15 years post-op. I would say it took about 8-10 years for my sense of taste to return to normal. I totally lost the sensation of sweet after maybe 2-3 bites of anything that was supposed to be sweet. First bite relatively normal, 2nd and 3rd bites maybe 70% suppressed, and then by the 4th bite 100% suppressed. Stayed this way for years, but eventually returned.

        The truth is, doctors don’t know everything. Their pronouncements often remove hope when they would be better off saying “I don’t know.”

        My body rebuilt itself somehow after many years.

  2. November 8, 2013 at 4:25 am

    I agree with you Joyce,had I also known I would not have gone through with it.Its been 4 weeks since I had mine removed .The pain was terrible ,could not sleep.It was a very traumatic experiance. I will also be against someone considering having tonsillectomy.Its not worth it.

    • Londiwe
      February 12, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Hi Sibongile…i knw this was posted some time ago… did you experience loss of taste after the op cause whatever i eat is awful!!!

      • Sibongile
        February 13, 2014 at 1:53 am

        Hi Londiwe

        I could also not taste food for about six weeks after the operation.My taste buds are back now but sometimes some food just taste different .I have completly healed now but when I think of that paid it was a very traumatic experiance.

    • Chris
      June 21, 2017 at 5:29 am

      Hi… Please help! Could you please share if your taste buds came back fully and also how long did it take?

      I’m 3 weeks after my surgery and I cannot taste ANYTHING! Some advice/reassurance will help please.

      • Jodie
        June 21, 2017 at 8:18 am

        5 years and I can only taste salt. Food has no flavor. Apparently it is really rare to lose it permanently like me. If it hasn’t returned in 12 months then it’s not going to come back. Nerve damage during the operation causes it.

      • Joyce
        June 21, 2017 at 11:42 am

        4 years post surgery now. I can now taste everything, it’s just not the same. I truly do not enjoy eating anymore. So yes it continues to get better but I don’t know that things will taste as good as before surgery.

      • Sibongile
        June 22, 2017 at 4:16 am

        Hi Chris,my taste buds came back fully after about 2 months after the operation.

      • tonsilfreak
        April 5, 2018 at 12:42 am

        4 years, sense of taste never came back 100%. Problem was tongue pressure (spatula) during surgery, blood circulation inside tongue was stopped during surgery by tongue spatula. tongue was damaged permanently

  3. Jodie
    December 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I had my tonsils removed nearly 2 years ago (Feb 2012) and my sense of taste has still not returned. I cannot taste anything sweet and food has no flavour. I can only taste salt itself but not salty food. I have to put salt on everything. I can also sense bitter things.
    It has an enormous effect on your life. One of life’s pleasures has been taken away,

  4. Joyce
    December 6, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Well it’s now been 14 weeks since surgery. My taste is very slowly returning. I started out with only bitterness, then discovered that I could not taste anything sweet, nothing tasted as it should have. I have also been having problems with my food sticking in the back of my throat. I’ve lost a good twenty pounds since surgery cause the thought of eating anything makes me sick, I had gotten so dehydrated that I had to be put on IV fluids. My kidneys were not working properly due to lack of fluids, A huge part of my life has been stripped from me. One of life’s sweet pleasures includes tasting and enjoying food, These medical professionals need to be straight forward and tell their patients the things that can go wrong with their taste, I was told that my doctor had only one other patient had this happen and he has no reason why. I am very worried that I will no longer find pleasure in food. This makes me sad but more important it makes me angry that NOT ONE PERSON even mentioned that my taste could be ruined, Don’t even consider having tonsil surgery as an adult. Just don’t!

    • Rodski
      June 12, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      I agree with you Joyce,we have the same issue regarding taste,,,MY advice to all,,never never remove your Tonsils,,,Im serious!!

      • June 12, 2016 at 11:21 pm

        Rodski, it’s going on three years and although I can taste food, nothing tastes like it did prior to surgery. I truly have to say that I do not enjoy eating anymore. Sorry to hear you had the same issues. Your advice is the same as mine…do not get your tonsils removed!

  5. December 12, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Maybe it would be helpful to others who has experienced this problem by first noting what was the reason to have the tonsillectomy. I ask this because there may be some conditions where a more increased risk of having loss of taste is seen. Maybe one can find common ground in patients with a loss of taste.

    For example, there are definite indications to have a tonsillectomy such as those who have have frequent inflammation of the tonsils or frequent chronic pharyngitis with enlarged tonsils. In my opinion, patients with chronic conditions may have a more favorable outcome than those who choose to have a tonsillectomy electively to reduce bad breath due to tonsil stones.. The reason this is because tonsils are more easily demarcated and easier to take out – tonsils with chronic inflammation are enlarged and defined more clearly through fibrosis from frequent inflammation.

    There are indeed other conditions where some patients have a more deeply embedded tonsils than others. This will also contribute to the increased risk of nerve damage since the surgeon needs to survey around more.

    All in all, it is unfortunate to read that ENT doctors still do not inform patients of the possibility of a temporary/permanent loss or change in taste from tonsillectomy.

    I hope that through this post, awareness of this problem may be increased. Hopefully in the future a medical criteria may even be created in identifying patents with increased risk in loss of taste due to a tonsillectomy.

  6. Joel
    January 7, 2014 at 2:20 am

    I had a tonsillectomy 12 months ago and lost all taste and smell immediately after surgery. This went on for weeks and months – I could not taste or smell a thing. The surgeons and specialists I sought help from had no answers. It got to the point where, because I had lost two of my senses, my quality of life suffered tremendously. There was no joy in eating anything and I felt stressed as my body was not processing things in a normal way.

    As a result of this for a while I became dependant on alcohol (even though I couldn’t taste it), I became ultra-stressed and my relationships with my family and friends suffered. I became severely depressed.

    After 6 or 7 months, I began to feel a taste sensation returning. I could taste salty foods like popcorn and chips. This gave me hope and I am began to get better over the course of the following few months. More foods began to provide taste and some foods sadly tasted awful…like rubbish or acid.

    12 months later I can taste most foods, but I can not taste proteins at all like beef, lamb, chicken or fish. Tomato based foods now taste like acid. But I’m positive it will return. I’d say that my taste has returned by 60-70%. So at this stage I’m happy to be able to enjoy most meals and take in most of the smells in the environment.

    My advice to anyone going through this is to try to stay positive, be patient, try the zinc tablets everyday ( I believe this helped me) and speak to your surgeon regularly. I saw multiple ENTs, doctors and neurologists in regard to this issue.

    A side note – I was never informed before my tonsillectomy that loss of taste and smell and taste distortion would ever be an issue. In speaking to others in the same boat, it would seem that most ENTs do not provide this information to patients…which I feel is a total disgrace. People should be informed in advance that loss of senses for short to long term periods could occur as a result of this routine surgery.

    • Joyce Smith
      January 7, 2014 at 10:33 pm

      My tonsillectomy was 4.5 months ago and I am just now starting to be able to taste some foods.

      Sent from my iPad


  7. February 25, 2014 at 2:44 am

    I had adenotonsillectomy on December 21st, 2013. The pain, post surgery was bearable but maybe because I survived worse tonsillitis cases during my childhood and teenage years. One week after surgery, it bleeds. I got admit back to hospital for monitoring and was given another cycle of Augmentin antibiotic. Then all went well. The recovery process was not a quick one but its not as painful as many describe so I’m thankful for that. Approximately four weeks after surgery, I’m finally able to eat solid food. Then I discover that I can’t taste anything at all. And until today, I still can’t taste anything. I’m currently on Vecobal(mecobalamin). Tomorrow is my second check-up post surgery. I am positive it will get better someday. And I try to not think about it too much just sometimes it bothers me. Especially when I’m eating something new and when I’m cooking for my family.

    • February 25, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Very interesting and I believe it will help many others in a similar situation.

      Vitamin B12 is widely known to help maintain the health of the nervous system.

      Vecobal or Mecobal is also known as the generic name “mecobalamin” aka. methylcobalamin is used for peripheral neuropathies. Peripheral neuropathy is another term for damage to the peripheral nervous system (including nerves in the tongue). Most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is trauma (physical injury).

      Methylcobalamin is one of the coenzyme forms of vitamin B12. (Vitamin B12 is known to maintain the health of the nervous system.) This drug/vitamin has been seen to promote nerve regeneration and functional recovery by elevating the metabolic pathways of the cell to bring faster healing and repair on injured nerve tissues.

      Whether this drug will be effective in patients who have had this symptoms for a longer period remains to be seen but this drug looks very promising. Maybe a treatment regimen which includes methylcobalamin and zinc along with the normal regimen of antibiotics after a tonsillectomy will become the norm.

      Thank you for your comment naff and keep us posted.

      • naff
        November 10, 2014 at 10:23 pm

        Hi, this is quite late update. But I got back my sense of taste last August. Approximately 8 months after the surgery. To whoever who still lose their sense of taste, be positive. It do bother you. But try not to think about it too much. Talk about it to somebody who willing to hear about it.

        Eat real foods. Avoid junk/artificial foods as it will only makes you sad (because of the horrible taste). If you can tolerate spicy foods, include it in your meals. It helps me so much during that phase. Talk to your doctor about this. I am not sure whether Vitamin B12 had been any help in my recovery, but I do take it as prescribed by my doctor.

        Be positive and stay strong! 🙂

  8. morlizer
    March 10, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Jodie :
    I had my tonsils removed nearly 2 years ago (Feb 2012) and my sense of taste has still not returned. I cannot taste anything sweet and food has no flavour. I can only taste salt itself but not salty food. I have to put salt on everything. I can also sense bitter things.
    It has an enormous effect on your life. One of life’s pleasures has been taken away,

    I had my tonsils removed 14 months ago, i have the exact symptoms as you. Some cokies taste bitter and i have extra salt on everything. I have done a taste test and i can slightly taste saur and sweet but the test sticks have a very high concentration. I have some hope to regain my taste by it’s fading slowly.

    • Jodie
      November 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Have you had any improvement in your taste? I haven’t.

      • Joyce
        November 10, 2014 at 4:34 pm

        Yes my taste returned very slowly. Had my tonsils out almost 15 months ago. I thought I had lost my taste forever but it did return. I was so depressed and actually got very ill because of it. I had lost a lot of weight and became very dehydrated. Had to go to the hospital for IV fluids. Doing well now.

      • Sibongile
        November 12, 2014 at 1:38 am

        My taste buds returned after about 2 months after I had my tonsils removed .I still get throat infections though so it is not true that you will not get throat infections.

  9. March 11, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Addendum: Concerns with those who have loss of taste are secondary complications from actions which may evolve through the loss of taste. For example, an increase in salt intake to compensate for loss of taste may lead to hypertension. An increase in sugar loaded items may increase caloric intake contributing to weight gain. On the other hand, Inability to enjoy foods may also lead to weight loss and deficiency in nutrition. Inability to do previously routine things such as cooking or use of food as an outlet to cope with stress may lead to chronic depression. Many scenarios can occur. Awareness of such actions is very important in the healing process and to prevent other complications. Consulting your family doctor or a trusted physician for more help may be warranted.

  10. Samantha
    July 14, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    I had a tonsillectomy about 6 weeks ago and have had a bitter taste in my mouth ever since. I am hoping that it is temporary and that my normal taste will resume. After reading about vitamin B12 and zinc I am definitely going to try them to hopefully speed up this process and enjoy tasting all of the foods I enjoy.

    • August 4, 2014 at 12:12 am

      Has your taste improved?

      • Anita
        August 4, 2014 at 5:33 am

        It is getting better with time and after taking the vitamins but still remains. I don’t know if the vitamins are helping it or if its part of the healing process but it is better. The bitterness has calmed down somewhat and is not with me every waking moment but when I am eating anything I notice it and food tastes bitter. Hopefully since the constant bitterness has diminished this will go away also. I wish the best for you and hope you have a good recovery. keep in touch. Thanks for your response.

  11. Janette
    November 9, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    My Surgery was on the 4 September 2014. I was told about the pain but again not informed about the taste implications were never mentioned.
    Sweet is just sweet cant tell a flavour and salty is the same.
    Make your eyes water extremes with those. Anything artificial is just horrible so pretty much fresh produce only.
    I was allergic to the pain medication and couldn’t keep them down lone enough to get any benefit but I’m looking forward to less tonsillitis.

    • November 10, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Thank you for sharing. Fortunately most cases with taste problems seem to heal eventually.within 3 months or sooner. Surgical pain should go away within 2 weeks. On the bright side, you will “almost” never get tonsillitis ever again (because they are all taken out) – with also less sinus and throat infections. Speedy recovery!

    • Jodie
      November 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      I really hope everyone’s taste returns. I had my tonsils out nearly 3 years ago and the only thing I can actually taste is salt. Food has no flavour at all. Loss of taste has a huge affect on your life. I was told things could taste different after surgery but not told my sense of taste could disappear.

      • November 10, 2014 at 7:19 pm

        Is it 3 years and not 3 months?!! (Confusing some of the replies… sorry!!) “Informed consent” is all the more important and seen through all who experience medical complications such as a loss in taste. The burden of patients understanding the risks lies soley on the doctors and more importantly in this case the ENT/Otolaryngology Associations which create guidelines to ENT doctors to inform patients the risk factors of certain procedures.

      • Jodie
        November 10, 2014 at 11:29 pm

        Yes it has nearly been three years. I no longer enjoy cooking or going out to dinner. And people have no idea how upsetting it is, the usual comment I get from people is ‘It’s not so bad you can just eat vegetables’.

  12. suzan hauwert
    November 20, 2014 at 2:37 am

    Hi, Just found this website. It’s been 3,5 months and my taste is still very off. Especially sweet I am not able to taste. I would nobody recommend to do this operation. My doctor doesnt understand it’s such an important thing in life, enjoying food. I am taking vit B and Zink. And other than that it’s just waiting…..and hoping it will recover.
    I didn’t take zink with food yet. So i read that’s better. So I am gonna try that.
    Wish the best for everyone.
    from Holland

    • F.tas
      July 29, 2017 at 7:45 am

      Suzan how is your taste now? Could you please inform us?

  13. December 9, 2014 at 4:42 am

    I have my surgery exactly 9 days ago. The pain is beginning to pass but uncomfortable sensation in the throat still remains. But most of all that concerns me is that I do not feel the taste. I also have a bitter taste in your mouth all the time. Maybe it’s too early to worry about it, but it’s already depresses me. I can already try to eat a variety of things, but I do not want to, I have no appetite, because everything tastes bad. If anyone knows how to cheer me up?
    I hope that all of you, who you have written here, the problem will go away.
    Greetings from Estonia

    • morlizer
      December 9, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Hi Kakssikku, i have lost my taste to. It has been 2 years now. In the beginning i could only taste little bit of salt, can you taste salt? Bitter was also there but not sweet or sour. I could drink a newly squeezed lemon without tasting any. To my surprise a few weeks ago i could no longer drink lemon without making a cringing face, that gave me hope that one day i might taste sweet again. The good thing from loosing taste is that i lost weight and i love my new body =)

      • Anita
        December 9, 2014 at 9:10 pm

        I had my surgery in June 2014. I could only taste sweet things and had a bitter taste that remained with me for at least 2 months. Slowly all my senses returned but I had to admit it was very disheartening. I took zinc and vitamin B12 and it appeared to have sped up the recovery process. Don’t be discouraged, give your body time to heal and see how you feel then.

  14. December 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Hi! Thank you for the kind words. Now it is 15th day after surgery, and my taste buds are still very confused. Everything is bitter! I still have a bitter taste in my mouth, but probably not as much as before. It’s weird that I feel the taste of the first bite, but then it disappears or becomes a bitter taste. My doctor tells me to wait and he said that sometimes supposed to wait several months. Why did not anyone warn me? This is so important thing! I sincerely hope that this will not last for several years. Nobody can understand how important it is to feel tastes until it is lost or disturbed. I also take zinc and vitamin B12 kow.

  15. raisedbywolves
    June 17, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Did anyone here file a malpractice suit? I have a similar situation to some of you. Complete loss of any taste but salty. I spoke to a speech/swallowing therapist who said that loss of taste is usually permanent irreversible damage, but over time your body re-calibrates identifying foods using other sensations and tricks itself into thinking taste is improving. After a while you forget what things used to “taste” like, and just identify them the only way you now are able. I’m thinking a lawsuit is warranted since there was no mention of this risk, and for the sake of everyone it may be the only way to change the protocol and help reduce the frequency of this horrible side effect.

    • Jodie
      June 17, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      I am the same as you, I can only taste salt after 3 years. I just saw a different specialist who said it is more than likely nerve damage and my taste will not return. It affects your life in so many ways.
      I have not spoken to a legal professional about it but have been thinking of doing so. Not sure if it is worth the extra stress though.
      How long ago did you have your tonsils removed? For everyone else the problem seems to be temporary. The two specialists I have seen have never had it happen before.

      • Raisedbywolves
        June 17, 2015 at 6:27 pm

        3 months for me. I’m contacting attorneys. I’m also having speech and swallowing issues.

      • Jodie
        June 18, 2015 at 12:57 am

        Please let me know what they say. I haven’t had any speech issues and at the start had trouble swallowing but only due to not producing saliva.
        Good luck with everything.
        I really think something needs to be done about this, I was told my taste may be different but not gone. I think because more and more older people are having tonsils removed and need to be made aware that there is a real risk of taste loss.

    • Asdf
      January 30, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Did you end up suing??

      • Raisedbywolves
        January 31, 2016 at 9:04 am

        No. I tried a couple of attorneys but they wouldn’t take the case. I was angry about that but just moved on. Maybe a some sense of taste has returned, or maybe I have adjusted to the new normal of using smell and texture to compensate; or maybe both. It’s been 10 months since my surgery.
        It would be great if some law firm would take up this cause. Unfortunately, unless getting sued is a real concern, ENT surgeons won’t care enough about preventing this awful side effect.

    • January 31, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Can you please elaborate the reasons why the attorneys wouldn’t take the case? In particular has any of the attorneys explained to you about “uninformed” consent? Thank you!

  16. omat
    August 26, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Hello to everyone my name is Omar I had a 3 part procedure done because i had sleep apnea. I had my tonsils removed and UUV reconstructed. I don’t know what the 3rd part was. But my taste is screwed up its only been like 3 weeks but i have a slight taste in sweetness, salty things i can taste. Spicy foods i can taste i have been eating green leafy foods vegetables mostly healthy stuff. BUT i am not gonna give up I know my taste buds will come back it just gonna take time and patience. I’m gonna try zinc and B 12.

  17. Joyce
    August 27, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    My original post was Oct.2013. At that time I was 5 weeks out and was extremely sick from not being able to eat because everything tasted horrible. Now, 2 years after surgery, there are some things that still taste bitter, and a lot of foods do not taste like they used to taste. I used to enjoy eating. Now I just eat because I have to.

  18. Melissa Vilane
    January 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

    I too wasn’t told about this bring a side effect to the tonsillectomy surgery. If I’d known I wouldn’t have done it. I am considering taking legal action against my doctor. He should have disclosed this. I feel like life had lost a little of its meaning. It’s been 6 months and I’m hoping my sense of taste will come back but reading the other posts I’m very pessimistic

  19. Melissa
    January 8, 2016 at 11:27 am

    I too wasn’t told about this bring a side effect to the tonsillectomy surgery. If I’d known I wouldn’t have done it. I am considering taking legal action against my doctor. He should have disclosed this. I feel like life had lost a little of its meaning. It’s been 6 months and I’m hoping my sense of taste will come back but reading the other posts I’m very pessimistic

  20. Asdf
    January 30, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I’m really scared after reading all these. It’s been 3 months since my surgery and I’m sick of not being able to taste things!! If anyone sues let me know how it goes because this has destroyed my life! I just want to get hit by a bus.As if I didn’t have enough on my plate now this.

    Also I feel like I have a bad taste coming from my right side only? Anyone else have this?

  21. Betty
    March 29, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Thank heavens I found this website! It has barely been three weeks since my tonsillectomy, and I have noticed a difference in my taste and smell. My doctor didn’t tell me about this possibility, and when I’ve mentioned it to people, they’ve not heard of side effects like this from a tonsillectomy. Also, my tongue has lack of feeling in some spots. I knew I was not imagining things and have been very frustrated. I am going to confront my doctor about not fully informing me of possible side effects like these when I see him again.

  22. Scott
    July 10, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Wow…nobody my tined this.

    I personally fell lucky after reading about worse outcomes. It’s 3weeks and now that I’m ready to eat some real food, I’m noticing my favorite foods are just falling short of their prior deciousness.

    I’ll remind my ENT colleagues to mention this when explaining the risks.

  23. Cheryl
    October 23, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    This article was very helpful in understanding my hypogeusia following tonsillectomy. Thank you

  24. millicent
    November 14, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    It’s been 4 weeks since I had my tonsils removed. my life has really changed. I can’t taste food. It sucks I wish I knew. After reading all this comments I guess I’ll have to adjust to my new state

    • F.tas
      August 3, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      Update your status please

  25. sarah4503@gamil.com
    January 29, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I had mine taken out 3 weeks ago. Finally at the point where is dose not hurt any more. Taste is still way off. Sugar tastes like chemicals.. I had them removed because of tonsil stones. I would have bad onion breath that would never go away. So I tried to cough and hack over the sink every morning to get some of the white turds out of my throat. If I used a cotton swab to remove them, my whole throat and neck felt swollen for days. Thanks for the article and comments, even though it’s a real bummer to hear many of you have not recovered your taste. I don’t regret getting the surgery. Even if I never taste real chocolate again.

  26. May 7, 2017 at 8:19 am

    It has been 6.5years since my tonsillectomy and I have no general sense of taste and cannot taste sweet at all. I can taste salt but dairy tastes bad.

    I can smell though and I can feel texture. It is an issue in identifying off food or when cooking to identify whether something tastes good or the same as usual. I also only have smell and sight to identify off food and have been caught out a few times.

    To be honest, my tonsils were so badly affected by disease that I’d been on antibiotics for at least 3 months and without them, the tonsils flared up. I needed them out but wasn’t prepared for the possibility of losing my taste.
    I have got used to it though. I didn’t eat much at first but it is such a social action that it affected my family so I had to learn to adapt.

    There are worse senses to lose and nerve damage is something that isn’t well understood. It is my hope that one day I will wake up and my taste will be restored. If not, at least I can see, hear, smell and feel (even if smells are now a little overpowering!)

    If there is anyone with long term taste loss where their taste has returned, that’s a post I’d love to read. Hope is a powerful thing!

    • snowflake
      May 18, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      I am 15 years post-op. My taste has returned fully as best I can tell. Whether it is the nerves regenerating or my brain re-wiring to compensate, I cannot really say. All I can tell you is that I can finally eat ice cream, cake, pumpkin pie, and other desserts and they taste normal. Imagine ice cream tasting like a bowl of cold lard and that pretty much sums up what it was like. I would say it took about 7 -10 years for me to regain normality of taste.

      Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

      – Proverbs 13:12

  27. Rachel
    July 12, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Since I do my sygery on the 24 April even now my taste buds are not back it really irritating and depressing eating food that u knw r nice but can’t feel anything how can I get help will my buds ever come back

    • F.tas
      July 25, 2017 at 4:27 am

      Rachel do you still have problem with your taste? Could you please update your status?

  28. F.tas
    July 24, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    I have had this surgery nearly 3 weeks ago. And I lost nearly all my taste sense. When I put food on my mouth I only taste first 3 bites. And than boom no taste any more. I feel very bad and it started to effect my family life already. I read all your comments from this site. Now I feel more deppresive. Because some of people saying that 3 years later my taste sense still bad 😦 I have had this surgery nearly best hospital in Turkey/ istanbul and paid more than 5000$ and also my ent md was proffessor. I do not believe my doc did wrong things during my operation or damaged my nerveus. Maybe he did this operation more than 500 people. I eill try zinc and b12 for faster recovery but ı am not sure it will work for me. I hope all of ypu get well soon and take back your taste sense asap.

    • snowflake
      May 18, 2019 at 2:36 pm

      It is very likely that you taste will return but mine took years. I hope that yours takes less time. See my long post further down with details of my own experience.

      I also remember having the first 2-3 bites of food taste normal, and then it was like the sensory nerve for sweet just turned itself off. I guess it wasn’t so bad to have no taste for dessert and all the sweet stuff that is bad for you, but it was still really depressing.

      I wish you all the best and hope your recovery does not take as long as mine. Seems like 7-10 years before things were approaching normal again. I am now 15 years post-op.

    • F.tas
      May 18, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      2 years later update. All, please dont worry about this taste loss. Everything will be fine soon. Mine took 1 year. Now everyrhing same as like before the operation. Chocolate, cola, deserts everthing normal… please be patient. Everything will be fine soon.

      • Jodie
        May 18, 2019 at 10:43 pm

        I am 7 years and still don’t have my taste back

  29. Stacy
    August 29, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I am 9 months post op and taste is still not normal. My recovery was miserable. Ugh!! My doctor said nothing about losing my taste!! I am frustrated with no answers!

  30. March 6, 2018 at 5:12 am

    Is there any reason for your tongue to be grounded up like ground beef while getting your tonsils out. ? That happened to me and I still have my huge right side tonsil. I can not eat or I choke . I’ve been living on chocolate milk for a year and a half now. I also have not been able to taste anything. No salt no sweet no bitter no sour. I’m losing weight and can’t find a Doctor that knows how to treat this because all my nerves in my tongue were cut into shreds when my tongue got grounded up. Can you please help me or know anyone who can? I’m also in severe pain every minute of every day and night. Please let me know if someone can help me….Thank you. Lisa. 904- 770-0614. If you call from an out of town area code please when I answer let me know your calling about my tongue /due to getting my tonsils out. Thank you again….

    • snowflake
      May 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      Your tongue remains untouched. It is the nerves that run near where your tonsils are embedded that is the problem. My tonsils were sort of buried instead of sticking out like two dainty little mushrooms. The doctor said this is pretty typical in adults and is one reason why tonsillectomies on children are simpler and usually don’t have the loss of taste/smell complications reported here.

      After the doctor came in post-op (and before I had tasted anything or the painkillers had worn off), he indicated that mine were particularly hard to remove. When I later had all my complications (see my long post below), I strongly suspected it was because he had to dig around in there excessively and damaged something in the process. He indicated that some people’s anatomy has these nerves running very close to where the tonsils attach. So I have always assume that had my tonsils just poked out nicely like they probably did when I was a child, and could have been cleaning snipped off, I would not have suffered as much pain of the prolonged loss of taste (8-10 years) before it returned. The pain lasted about 2-3 weeks. The taste issues much longer. Would I do it all over again? Probably – if someone would have told me that EVENTUALLY I would regain my taste and that it would take years. What was so hard was living in a state of not knowing for such a long time and having doctors act as if I was from Mars when I complained.

  31. lerato
    March 7, 2018 at 7:41 am

    had mine done on the 19/02/2018.. I will not advise anyone to do it . I have sense of smell but no taste buds , everything I eat is terrible and I am really frustrated by this . My DR didn’t tell me about this if I had known I wouldn’t have went through with it ..

  32. snowflake
    May 18, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    I had my tonsils removed in 2004. It was an excruciatingly painful recovery and I have a high tolerance for pain. The nurses acting like I was some kind of wimp and I suspect it was because they were used to this procedure on children – not adults. What consoled me was talking to another person (I am a man) that said childbirth was a breeze compared to their tonsillectomy. I have a feeling that my tonsils were somehow “buried” and not that easy to just reach in and snip off. I had them removed because food would get lodged in there and I had horrible breath. I think the physician referred to them as “tonsillar stones” but they were not hard – more like cottage cheese curds. I used to read to my small son at night, and he complained about my breath. Looking back, I am not sure if I would have gone through with it because somehow a nerve was damaged. I lost my sense of taste and I am really not sure if the nerves have truly regenerated, or if my brain has simply rewired itself to compensate.

    As best I understand it, taste works something like our perception of color: red, blue, green can be combined to create any color in the spectrum, including white light. Our body can combine our sweet, salty, bitter, and sour sensations to create a spectrum of taste. At least, that’s how I tend to think of it (even though it might not be scientifically correct). What I noticed immediately is that my sweet sensation was entirely gone. Ice cream tasted like a bowl of cold lard. A Hershey’s bar like unsweetened baking chocolate. It was really awful. But things that were not supposed to be sweet – like beer, meats, vegetables, and anything savory – tasted normal. It was sort of like a person that is color blind and cannot see green properly. If they look at things with no green tint at all (like a red light or an apple) it will appear normal. In the same way, many foods tasted normal but those that were supposed to be sweet tasted nasty. Imagine a pumpkin pie without the sweetness and that gives you the picture.

    Now, 15 years later, things taste reasonably normal but it was a very slow process. ONe of the reasons I am certain that nerve damage occurred is because my swallowing function was damaged as well. To this day, it is as though my throat muscles cannot fully wash things down. 30 minutes after having a glass of red wine, for example, if I brush my teeth and spit, it is dark red. This not normal and I can tell that certain foods are just a little harder than normal to get down. I went to another ENT physician to get a second opinion and she assured me my swallowing function was normal. I don’t think there is anything worse than going to a doctor and being told it is all in your head.

    I am also disappointed after reading this article that none of the physicians I spoke with had heard of this (including the one that did my tonsillectomy), yet it appears to be reasonably common. To hear the people I talked to, you would have thought I was presenting with a compliant that was 0.000000001%. It was really disheartening to not have a single soul that could corroborate what I absolutely KNEW to be true. I eventually found a single person on the internet that complained of the same thing – that was probably around 2005/2006. She was from the UK and to convey just how crappy their socialized medicine system is, she had here tonsils removed and was never allowed to meet her doctor. They simply put her under, wheeled her in, and she got whoever was on shift that particular day in their conveyor belt of a health system. When she had problems afterwards, she did was not even given the dignity of being able to speak with the physician because she didn’t know who he/she was. I sure hope we are not on the same trajectory here in America. I lived under a similar system in Canada for about 7 years and anyone who extols the virtues of socialized medicine has typically NEVER lived under that system for anything other than a cough or cold, and never had to wait in line for something truly serious.

    Anyway, enough ranting. I can merely say that loss of taste is absolutely real, and this article confirmed everything I suspected after living with this for 15 years and gradually (and I do mean gradually) regaining my taste – but still not fully my swallowing function.

  33. snowflake
    May 18, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Use caution with zinc. Like many of you, I was counseled to start taking it to help with my loss of taste. What nobody told me is that it can cause chronic diarrhea and it becomes a chain reaction from there. Stress over loss of taste. Take zinc to try and help. Fret over constant diarrhea – thinking stress was the culprit when it was actually the zinc. Chronic diarrhea irritates that part of the anatomy and hemorrhoids develop. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Perhaps 2-3 years later somebody bothered to inform me that a side effect of zinc was loose stool. I stopped the zinc, and within a few weeks everything was back to normal and hemorrhoids were gone.

    it took me a long time to regain my taste (perhaps 7+ years – I don’t recall exactly because it was so gradual), but now 15 years post-op, things taste normal again.

    • snowflake
      May 18, 2019 at 3:12 pm

      Oops. I said zinc. It was actually magnesium.

      • May 18, 2019 at 3:24 pm

        Yes. Mg does create diarrhea while Al creates constipation. This is the reason why we see in antacids Al-Mg commonly mixed together. They counteract the effects of each other.

    • May 18, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      Thank you for your precious testimony and insight. Your words I know will give hope to those who are experiencing similar circumstances.

  34. Jaqui Rickard
    July 5, 2019 at 9:31 am

    I also have the same issue with almost all foods after my tonsillectomy. All tasteless and the only thing I have left is salt. Every thing else tastes of lard in my mouth. I can’t get enough fatty foods in my diet to stop the weight loss without almost throwing up trying to eat it. So my question to everyone with this same issue is what foods have you found that you can consume or that you enjoy.
    For me these are what I’ve found so far and I can bear but not necessarily enjoy.
    All the following plain or with salt and pepper (chicken, prawns, lean beef, lean fish, certain breads, boiled eggs, mini cheddar biscuits, pasta, rice, boiled new pots, oven chips, strawberry, peaches, beef tomatoes only, and letttice).
    Everything is so dry and still tasteless so just eating for the need to.
    Any feedback greatfully received.
    I hope this helps others.
    Jaqui. UK

    • Joyce
      July 5, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      The first thing that I was able to eat because I could actually taste it was French fries (chips). I lived on them for months. Sweet food was the worst. I had my tonsils removed 1st time in 1973 and 2nd time in 2013. The 2nd time is when the problems started. I still do not enjoy eating. Although my taste slowly returned, food still does not taste good to me.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: