What is it and how to get rid of it

A collage of the faces of a woman and a man expressing discomfort and disgust after taking an unpleasant tasting pill Share on Pinterest
Paxlovid mouth, a phenomenon associated with taking the antiviral COVID-19, is not that common. design by MNT; Photography by Studio Firma/Stocksy & Taylor Catherine/Stocksy
  • In December 2021 and January 2022, the United States, United Kingdom and the European Medicines Agency approved the use of Paxlovid to treat certain people with COVID-19.
  • Some COVID-19 patients have reported experiencing a side effect that caused them to have a very bad taste in their mouth while taking the drug.
  • Medical professionals caution the importance of patients continuing their full course of Paxlovid treatment despite this side effect.

In December 2021 the Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the use of Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets in a co-pack for oral use) for the treatment of COVID-19.

Since then, there have been increasing reports of patients experiencing a side effect of the drug called “Paxlovid mouth.”

According to recent media reports and social media reports, this side effect leaves patients with an extremely bad taste in their mouth while taking the drug.

Paxlovid is a drug manufactured by Pfizer Laboratories. In addition to EUA status in the United States, Paxlovid was approved for use in the United Kingdom in December 2021 and in Europe in January 2022.

According to the FDA’s EUA, physicians can use Paxlovid to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children 12 years and older who weigh at least 40 kilograms, or about 88 pounds. Candidates for the drug must also have a positive SARS-CoV-2 test and be at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19, potentially resulting in hospitalization or death.

Paxlovid is an antiviral drug that combines two drugs to fight COVID-19. Nirmatrelvir helps stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from replicating in the body. And ritonavir — a drug originally approved by the FDA to treat HIV infection in adults and children — slows the breakdown of nirmatrelvir in the body, allowing it to stay in the body longer.

A possible side effect of Paxlovid is dysgeusia. Dysgeusia is a condition in which a person experiences a constant bad taste in the mouth. The bad taste is usually metallic, bitter, salty, or rancid. This condition can also affect the taste of food and drink when eating and drinking.

The results of the phase 2/3 clinical trial of Paxlovid reported that of the 1,120 patients who received the drug, almost 6% experienced taste disturbances as an adverse reaction.

What could be causing this type of reaction to Paxlovid? dr Raphael Kellman, an integrative and functional medicine physician at the Kellman Wellness Center in New York, said it could be related to an inflammatory response and also to receptor dysfunction.

“It can also affect receptors and nutrient levels, leading to these types of symptoms,” he explained MNT.

“[Dysgeusia is] Not limited to [Paxlovid]. We’ve seen this with other antivirals, but it’s not reported as often.”
— dr Raphael Kelman

“Apart from the unpleasant experience, the bad taste is not considered harmful in itself and will disappear soon after the medication is stopped as the drug is cleared from the body,” explained Dr. Jimmy Johannes, pulmonologist and critical care specialist at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center in Long Beach, CA.

according to dr David Cutler, primary care physician at Providence Saint John Health Center in Santa Monica, California, the real danger this side effect may pose to a person’s overall health is that the frequency and magnitude of the disorders caused by dysgeusia are common to many people prematurely discontinue their Paxlovid treatment cycle before the full five days of prescribed therapy have elapsed.

“It is not known what effect early stopping of Paxlovid might have,” said Dr. cutler MNT.

“Most likely, people at high risk of COVID complications would be more susceptible to hospitalization and death from COVID if they stopped Paxlovid early, but this has not been proven. Those who are at low risk of complications probably have little to lose by quitting early because they had little chance of hospitalization or death to begin with,” he said.

“Once you start taking it, you really want to take it to a point where you eradicate the virus, otherwise it could mutate and then become more problematic.”
— dr Raphael Kelman

“The same goes for taking antibiotics for bacterial infections. If you’re going to start doing this, you need to do it right, otherwise don’t do it at all because you can make the problem worse. With antibiotics and antivirals, it’s all or nothing,” added Dr. Kelman added.

dr Kellman said he recommends people taking Paxlovid always take it zinc also.

“It has a number of different immune system benefits and also helps with the sense of taste and smell,” he explained. “Whenever you’re taking an antiviral or antibacterial medication, I would recommend taking a probiotic as well.”

dr Johannes recommended using mints and chewing gum to distract from unpleasant aromas.

“People who experience this may need to try different foods, drinks or sweets to see what can make it less uncomfortable,” he added. “It should be noted that it disappears soon after the completion of the 5-day Paxlovid course.”

dr Cutler emphasized that the decision to initiate Paxlovid therapy is complex and a person must weigh all of the potential benefits, risks, and options before deciding on the best course of action.

“In addition to ‘Paxlovid mouth,’ there are many other risks of taking Paxlovid,” he said.

“Diarrhea is common, as are other gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and liver toxicity. There are many medications that have adverse interactions with Paxlovid. People with significant kidney or liver dysfunction should not take Paxlovid. And there’s the problem COVID “Recovery” after treatment with Paxlovid, where the infection initially clears up and comes back about a week later,” he explained.

“There is no known treatment for ‘Paxlovid mouth,’ but there are many reasons to be cautious before beginning Paxlovid therapy,” continued Dr. Cutler away.

“Every effort should be made to complete the five-day course of treatment to avoid serious complications from COVID. Because “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” the best way to avoid “Paxlovid mouth” is to avoid COVID through vaccination. maskingand other proven preventive measures.”
– dr David Cutler

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