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June 26, 1995

Sweet Taste (Dysgeusia): The First Symptom of Hyponatremia in Small Cell Carcinoma of the Lung

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, University of South Alabama, Mobile.

Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(12):1325-1328. doi:10.1001/archinte.1995.00430120117014

Three patients with small cell carcinoma of the lung presented with a persistent unpleasant sweet taste as their initial and only symptom. On further evaluation, they were found to have hyponatremia secondary to the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone. In each case, resolution of the sweet taste paralled an increase in serum sodium concentration after water restriction alone. Linkage of the sweet taste with a low serum sodium concentration strongly implicates hyponatremia—rather than tumor, antidiuretic factor, medications, or chemotherapy—as the central mechanism responsible for this previously unreported (to our knowledge) sentinel symptom of small cell carcinoma of the lung.

(Arch Intern Med. 1995;155:1325-1328)