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Taste Alteration / Loss

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For many people, food is more than just sustenance; it’s something to be savored. Important and celebratory occasions often center around food or the act of sharing a meal between people. We usually take our sense of taste for granted, but what happens if you’re unable to taste what you’re eating? Some people are born with taste disorders, while some develop them.

What Causes a Loss of Taste?

Most people develop taste disorders after illness or injury, although some people are born with them. Common reasons for a loss of taste include the following:

  • Dental problems or poor oral hygiene
  • Flu and the common cold
  • Strep throat and pharyngitis
  • Salivary gland and nasal infections
  • Middle ear and upper respiratory infections
  • Head injuries
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or medications
  • Radiation therapy to treat cancers of the head and neck
  • Wisdom tooth extractions
  • Some surgeries to the ear, nose, and throat (such a middle ear surgery)

A change in their sense of taste is usually related to an upper respiratory problem. This occurs because the sense of taste is closely related to the acuity of the sense of smell, and anything that impairs the sense of smell will cause a change in the acuity of taste as well. For example, impaired taste is very common in those who have nasal polyps, frequent throat infections, or chronic sinus congestion. If you have symptoms such as sore throat, cough, sneezing, or nasal congestion, these are probably related to the change in your ability to taste foods. The first step would be to go see your primary care doctor, who can perform a thorough examination and help figure out what might be the upper respiratory cause. Very effective treatments are available for all of these conditions. .  Some vitamin deficiencies, such as iron deficiency or B vitamin deficiency may cause inflammation of the tongue and loss of taste.  Especially, loss of taste sensation can be related to bad oral hygiene or tooth infections.  This can be easily treated by visiting your dentist. 

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