View Full Version : how much does a trach interfere with ability to taste?

04-12-2009, 08:16 PM
I keep hearing different things from different people about how much Eric is able to taste. The developmental peds dr at Riley said trach kids have next to no taste until they decan, but our home ST says it really dosen't make that much difference. We keep trying to give him things we know he should like, like pancakes with syrup or tiny bites of twinkie just to name two, but he won't have anything to do with it. We think it must be just the texture that he dosen't like. He eats stage 2 baby food really well, and things like pudding and applesauce, but anything with texture is almost impossible to get him to eat more than a bite or two. Can I expect this to improve after decan? Assuming, of course, that he's able to decan? We should find out more about that in two weeks. He's having a bronch done and if they see scar tissue or malacia we'll start talking about options for fixing it.

04-12-2009, 08:54 PM
Jen, I think it definitely affects their sense of taste. I mean, if you think about how you taste, and the way you taste, it seems nearly impossible for a trached kid to really and truly taste anything. There's such a small amount of air, if any at all, passing up in their noses and mouths, how would they ever taste anything like we do? With that knowledge, Kate definitely has a different sense of taste now than she did while she was trached. When trached, she liked spicy food and food that was extremely high taste -- things like breakfast sausage, spicy chicken wings, spicy Doritos -- things like that. She very rarely ate traditional toddler food like pancakes, waffles, mac and cheese anything like that. Part of it was texture for her (she never liked bready textures like pancakes, muffins, cake, donuts), but definitely some of it was that she couldn't taste it and combined with the weird texture, forget it. She spit it right out. I remember Adison's mom Alison telling me Adison's taste in food changed quite a bit once she was decanned, so I always kept that in my head. Sure enough, once Kate was decanned, she went right to a typical toddler diet. Mac and cheese is a staple and sausage has taken a back seat. Where before, she'd eat the topping from a slice of pizza, now, she picks that off and just eats the pizza. The change was almost immediate.

04-12-2009, 09:13 PM
I did not realize that our daughter's taste might be different with a trach. It is interesting that Angela said her child with the trach loved sausage and spicy foods because mine does also. She also does not really like sweets, so maybe that is because her sense of taste is different. She loves vegetables also.
Someone also told me that kids with trachs can't smell well (which I don't know how true this is). My child with a trach has a very sensitive sense of smell, so it is not true with her. She gags with bad smells, which is quite embarrassing since she has told doctors and nurses that they smell bad!

04-12-2009, 09:25 PM
We struggled so much with getting Evan to eat while he had the trach-I would cry every day because it was so frustrating. What was even more frustrating was that I couldn't get any of the medical professionals to hear me when I would question the fact that he probably doesn't taste due to the fact that he's not breathing through his mouth and nose. Anyhow, it seemed that things changed dramatically when he got the trach out and he was more interested in eating. Hmmm, to me it seemed obvious. Once he started eating, he was very willing to try new things so now he loves everything from seafood to Mexican to Chinese.

04-12-2009, 09:55 PM
I dont know about after decan, but Joseph definately doesn't like anything sweet... he makes a horrible face and spits it right out.. but anything sour, tart, or spicy he will try and usually get excited about.
Never before have I seen a baby pass up baby food fruits/sweet potatoes for baby food chicken noodle, and turkey veggie dinners-

04-12-2009, 11:27 PM
I can tell you that Addisyn can definitely taste. I have had to have her medications compounded so that she would take them. She has to have the tutti fruitie flavored Zantac or will spit it out. She also likes marshmallow flavored medicines.
Herbal vaporizer forum (http://vaporizer.org/forum/herbal-vaporizers/)

Ainsley's Mom
04-13-2009, 12:34 AM
I think it must but it's hard to say for sure since we still have the trach. But Ainsley recently has started liking HP sauce. It's tangy and a little spicy. Not a typical food for a 2 year old. We are in the process of capping. When I give her a taste of HP with the cap on she kind of shivers like holy cow what the heck is that?! I think her sense of taste is affected. In her case she has had little air flow through the upper airway, until recently. Which I think is why she is finally starting to be willing to take tastes of stuff.

So I think that it depends on the reason for the trach, and the amount of air leak the child has up to the mouth and nose. When I plug my nose and taste it doesn't taste the same. I think that kids that don't smell much also don't taste much.

04-13-2009, 06:32 AM
In our case the trach has affected taste. The less air Nathan could move normally--nose and mouth--the more taste was affected. With Nathan we have seen it with spicy food. The less air movement the spicier the food! When he was a baby he would eat things with cilantro or jalapenos and it didn't bother him a bit. NOw that his airway is more open his taste is not as extreme.

04-13-2009, 07:56 AM
Before both of Tommy's LTPs, we thought of the high chair as the "torture chair". Strap him in, try to play/distract him, anything just to get him to do a few tastes. Right after the LTPs, he'd sign eat, open up his mouth and take BITE after BITE after BITE. As his airway started to slowly scar shut, we didn't need a scope! We could tell because Tommy would eat less and less and be right back down to tastes only.

Then again, this Easter weekend Tommy ate two sugar cookies.:rolleyes: So, maybe it's just as much about smell as it is behavioral & control factors & swallow all combined.

04-13-2009, 08:16 AM
For us, the bigger the leak, the more typical tasting foods Alex would tolerate. He hated pears until his leak was very, very large. I think he couldn't taste them.

He preferred veggies to fruits for the longest time, and salt to sweet. He liked crackers and chips but spat out cookies. Then, after the distraction (increased his leak) he would eat some cookies but not others.

After the LTP, Alex likes cookies, cookies, and more cookies. I've noticed a definite preference for sweet developing.

I, too, have heard a lot of different stories about taste, but for Alex the trach definitely affected the taste. He is happy with milder flavored things now.

04-13-2009, 08:19 AM
Abby loves her food and she doesn't like spicy food at all. So perhaps she is an exception to the rule. I wondered at first about her sense of taste, but it really doesn't seem to have an effect on her at all. I assume that once her trach is gone her sense of taste will heighten quite a bit.


04-13-2009, 08:27 AM
Abby loves her food and she doesn't like spicy food at all. So perhaps she is an exception to the rule. I wondered at first about her sense of taste, but it really doesn't seem to have an effect on her at all. I assume that once her trach is gone her sense of taste will heighten quite a bit.


Tess -- I've been meaning to ask you this. Does Abby notice a difference in taste or swallow when she has her cap on or not? I've always wanted to ask someone old enough to tell me, but young enough to have (or remember) a child's perspective.

04-13-2009, 09:13 AM
hmmmm good question Karin. I will ask Abby. Interesting question.


04-13-2009, 02:55 PM
One of my friends had a husband who was trached and ventilated for the last few years of his life. He said that eating was like tasting things through cotton wool, or eating with your nose very blocked. He preferred things with a strong savoury taste since this came through more.

Angus' first food was butter. He loved/s it. He doesn't like things which come to bits in his mouth - hard to control and our kids don't have experience of manipulating and controlling food in their mouths. He then started on cheddar cheese (grated). Then it was chocolate. He won't eat purees unless it is ketchup or brown sauce (similar to ketchup but spicier). He likes rice which is a bit weird considering how he freaks when other things he's trying come to bits in his mouth. So much of it is behvioural/psychological. Our kids have to feel safe and confident and in control of what they are eating, and so many factors affect that day to day.

So yes, trachs reduce the sense of taste, but texture plays a huge part in what our kids will eat and I don't think there's a huge amount of consistency in what "trach kids" will eat. It's down to what each individual feels confident about eating.

04-13-2009, 09:34 PM
Like others mentioned, with Shelby anyway, taste/smell and texture I think played a huge role. She began by eating really soft food (baby food, yogurt) or really crunchy foods (esp. spicy Nacho Doritos). Nothing in between, no mixed textures. Lots of gagging, too at first. ST worked with her a lot and sometimes pushed her too far, to the point that she became a little fearful of eating and of the therapist. I had to ask her to stop and let me work with Shelby.

So it's watching for cues, waiting, experimenting ... watching, waiting, experimenting .... you get the idea. Patience, lots of that, too.


04-14-2009, 12:06 AM
I'll tell you what, Kharma can taste. I don't know if it means that she has a bigger leak or what, but she has specific foods that she hates, and specific foods that she smacks her lips for more of. She really enjoys sweets, which is something that (from these responses) a lot of trach kids don't like. She's not so much about the salty... but anything sweet! She will also try to eat my sister's face, and then make a gnar face and gag because she doesn't like the taste of her foundation :D :rolleyes:

04-14-2009, 11:52 AM
You know, there may be another factor here we aren't thinking about. I recall a conversation we had with our GI specialist a few months ago. He noted that in his primarily tube fed kids, when they start to eat, he has noticed that they often seem to prefer salty things. I can't recall if he had a reason why he thought that happened. It was simply an observation that he made in passing.

So, in case we want to do a round robin again, Alex appeared to show a marked difference in his ability to taste as his leak got larger, and even more so after he was decanned. He preferred salt before, with very little sweet other then baby fruit, and now he shows an almost equal preference for sweet things like cookies. He was tube fed almost exclusively since birth until roughly 8 months of age when he began eating more than just tastes. By about 14 months, I would say, he consumed half his calories by mouth, the rest by tube.

Maybe this clicks for someone.