The prospect of developing dementia is a daunting thought, not least because those who suffer from the disease often fail to recognize its signs. Cognitive symptoms such as memory loss—though central to the illness—can hinder a diagnosis by leaving the patient disoriented and less likely to seek medical care. That's exactly why it can be so useful to know the early symptoms of dementia that frequently preempt cognitive decline. While there is currently no cure for this neurological condition, spotting a problem early may allow you to pursue meaningful interventions to manage your symptoms.
So what should you look out for, before cognitive symptoms strike? Experts say that there's one strange early sign that may help you identify a problem—and get the help you need. If you notice this one strange thing when you eat, it may be time to talk to your doctor about a screening.
Having a metallic taste in your mouth when you eat can be a sign of dementia.
Experts say that having a metallic taste in your mouth when you eat may tip you off to a dementia diagnosis. That's because, as the makers of Metaqil, a mouthwash designed to remedy and reduce metallic taste explain, once afflicted with the disease, "the brain cannot send strong signals to the areas of the body that pertain to the five senses," causing sensory confusion, including taste abnormalities.
"The senses tend to deteriorate with age, but at an even faster rate with dementia," the experts at Metaqil point out. "Foul and unpleasant tastes can be the result of such weak signals from the brain. Many people with dementia experience metallic taste in their mouths. Because the brain is the central operating system of the human body, diseases of the brain have a massive effect on how the rest of our body functions."
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The strange taste can lead to malnutrition in dementia patients.
Unfortunately, this can have serious implications for those who suffer from dementia, including malnutrition or increased frailty.
"Disorders of taste and smell can cause an aversion to food in a sick patient and therefore affect his or her ability to maintain optimal nutrition," according to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Medicine. "This can lead to a reduced level of strength, muscle mass, function, and quality of life," the authors concluded.
It can also lead to a decline in overall health.
Conversely, experiencing a metallic taste or other taste abnormalities can lead some patients to overeat. That same 2016 study found that "reduced ability to differentiate between various intensities or concentrations of a tastant can result in increased intake of salt and sugar and exacerbation of chronic diseases such as heart failure and diabetes."
The authors add that these effects can be particularly devastating in the elderly, who may take multiple medications or have multiple underlying co-morbidities.
However, there are several other possible explanations.
While a metallic taste in your mouth could signal dementia, it's not the only possible culprit. Experts say that this strange symptom may, in rare cases, be due to kidney or liver problems, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
However, more often than not, the reason for the metallic taste is far less nefarious. Sub-par oral hygiene, pregnancy, and certain vitamins and medications can also be to blame, the experts at the Cleveland Clinic note. Consult your doctor to find out what's behind your own strange symptom.