Diabetes is one of the most rapidly increasing lifestyle disease which has become common in every part of the world.
The prevalence of diabetes among adults over eighteen years of age has risen to about a percentage of 8.5%.
We all have read about the impact of diabetes on health, hormones, and quality of life. But did you know that diabetes also tends to alter your taste?
Many people who suffer from diabetes experience a change of taste in their mouth. Usually, they develop a constant salty, bad or sour taste.
Over time, the high blood sugar levels complicate this condition by causing dry mouth and neuropathic effects on the nerves of the mouth.
In this article, we will discuss how diabetes causes taste disorders and what can you do to treat it effectively.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is characterized as a group of metabolic disorders which contribute to increased blood sugar levels over a prolonged time.
Most often, diabetes is caused due to decreased production of insulin by the pancreas or reduced response of the body cells to insulin. (1)
Typical symptoms of diabetes may include –
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
What is taste?
Taste is the sensation produced when any substance in the mouth chemically reacts with the taste receptors present on the taste buds in the mouth.
Taste buds are a cluster of cells that are commonly present on the surface of the tongue, the palate or roof of the mouth and the lining of the throat. On average, every person consists of about 10,000 taste cells which eventually decrease with age. (2)
What is the correlation between diabetes and taste disorder?
Diabetes in a person comes with a box full of symptoms. One of the common sign of diabetes is a taste disorder.
Recent studies have shown that type 2 diabetes is most likely to cause trouble in tasting only sweet food.
However, type 1 diabetes is the main culprit to cause impaired taste. In addition to this study, diabetics with neuropathy may also experience an alteration in taste. (3)
On a broad scale, taste disorders can be classified into four categories –
- Hypogeusia – reduced the ability to taste sweet, sour, salt and bitter
- Dysgeusia – decreased ability to feel a sour and salty taste
- Parageusia – Metallic taste in the mouth
- Ageusia – Inability to taste anything
Dysgeusia is most often related to type 2 diabetes. As a result, the patient cannot taste sweet food and develops a strong sour or salty taste in the mouth. (4)
What are the complications?
Diabetes comes with certain complications that may severely affect the oral health of the patient. One of the common complications of diabetes is dry mouth.
Dry mouth or xerostomia is an oral condition that many diabetic patients suffer from because of high blood sugar levels. Diabetic medications are the second in line to cause dry mouth.
Saliva in the mouth helps to wash away the food particles and plaque from the surface of the teeth. Saliva also discourages the growth of oral bacteria that cause dental caries.
Dry mouth decreases the production of saliva and increases the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections. Moreover, dry mouth also can alter the taste in the mouth.
It is entirely possible that dry mouth in diabetic patients is the prime cause for the development of salty taste in the mouth. (5)
How can you treat the taste disorder in a diabetic person?
Medications usually regulate diabetes and monitored by regular health check-ups.
Specific changes in lifestyle can improve the conditions of dry mouth and taste disorders in diabetic patients.
The treatment of taste disorder depends on the cause. Consult a doctor to detect the cause of taste alterations in your mouth. If the reason is medications, ask for alternative medicines that may improve your condition.
Additionally, follow the remedies given below to save yourself from the misery of taste disorders –
- Quite smoking – smoking worsens the condition of dry mouth, especially in diabetic patients.
- Correct the habit of mouth breathing – consult a doctor to get treated for mouth breathing. This oral habit may contribute to dry mouth and indirectly affect your oral health.
- Good oral hygiene – the key to maintain good oral health is to follow your oral routine regularly. Brush and floss every day.
- Rinse your mouth daily with an alcohol-free mouth rinse to maintain moisture and decrease bacterial load in the mouth.
- Stay hydrated – sip water more often during the day to maintain hydration.
- Modify your diet – one of the best lifestyle modification for diabetic patients is to replace sugary and salty food with fresh fruits and vegetables which have high water content.
- Sugar-free gums can be used to stimulate saliva productions in a patient suffering from dry mouth.
Take away message
Often, people tend to take their health for granted. Diabetes is a vicious disease. Once you get trapped in it, it is challenging to maintain a healthy life.
Little did we know that diabetes has such a significant impact on our oral health especially our ability to taste the food.
Impaired taste and taste disorders often cause health and nutritional imbalance in the body. These factors are the prime reason for the deteriorating quality of life.
People who have diabetes are more prone to developing such disorders. Additionally, diabetes also causes dry mouth.
Dry mouth and taste disorder is a deadly combination which ruins the experience of enjoying good food. Moreover, it worsens our oral hygiene over time.
If you experience an alteration in your taste, consult your doctor immediately to detect the cause and get appropriate treatment.