Can you taste hepatitis c?
October 4, 2010 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Can you taste when you have hepatitis c?

Middle of this summer, I noticed persistent taste of corruption in my mouth, even right after brushing, flossing, and gargling, I could taste this nastiness similar to that burst of flavor you get when you floss free a piece of stuck meat. My dentist found no cavitites or gum problems. A week later, my yearly STD testing came back positive for hep c.

Follow up testing has shown no detectable virus, retesting in 3 months, the icky taste in my mouth is still there, and just as strong.

Is this taste thing a known side effect of hep c infection? Is it a sign that the negative viral load test result should be taken with a grater than usual sized grain of salt? I am 99.9999% certain the infection occurred within 60 days prior to the first STD test.
posted by No1UKnow to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
There are reports of loss of taste (aguesia) with some of the drugs used to treat Hepatitis C virus (HCV). There's also literature on loss of taste in patients with liver disease, but if your HCV is early, your liver function is probably fine so far.

There's an older (1976) citation on loss of taste with acute hepatitis, but it predates the identification of HCV.

You should maybe see a hepatologist if you have HCV, and see what he/she says.
posted by scblackman at 11:12 AM on October 4, 2010

I don't know about whether hep C could make your mouth taste gross, but have you had your sinuses checked? Terribly bad breath has been a symptom of sinus infection for a number of people I know, and if their mouths tasted anything like they smelled I'm sure it was not very pleasant. That seems like the next logical thing to check if your dentist gave you a clean bill of health.
posted by vytae at 11:23 AM on October 4, 2010

IAMNAD, but I lost my father to Hep C. He always said that he had a terrible, terrible taste in his mouth. He would always be trying to wash it - or rather, eat it - away with a morsel of something or other. Now, I don't know if this was due to his overall poor health (poor digestion, diabetes, anti-depressants) or to the Hep C specifically. Again, I am not a doctor. He was one, though, and he did attribute it to the Hep C.

This is not to say that you should take your negative viral load any more or less seriously. There is only one way to take a Hep C diagnosis, after all, and that is very seriously.
posted by lydhre at 11:32 AM on October 4, 2010

I had a long-time roommate with Hep C, and he could certainly taste things fine. I don't recall him ever mentioning this symptom.
posted by alms at 11:34 AM on October 4, 2010

I don't know anything about the relationship between taste and hep c, but I think it might be worth clarifying a point a few answers may be unaware or confused about. Hep c is generally a chronic disease, but some people spontaneously clear the infection in the acute phase. The test results suggests that's what happened to the asker. In other words, No1YouKnow may no longer have HCV, but this taste symptom has him or her wondering if the zero viral load result should be met with greater skepticism. Personally, I don't know. I'd look up the false negative rate for the test and use that to decide whether further testing is warranted. The taste issue may be a red herring, but IANAD and metafilter is no substitute for professional medical advice, of course.
posted by reren at 11:55 AM on October 4, 2010

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