A loss of taste or ‘impaired taste’ means that your sense of taste is not functioning correctly. It can also refer to an altered sense of taste or absence of taste.
The most common pure taste disorder is a ‘phantom taste sensation’. It is the perception of a bad taste in the mouth that doesn’t go away.
Many disorders of the sense of taste are associated with a decreased or impaired sense of smell.
Common causes of loss of taste are cold, flu, sinus infection, smoking, etc. You can treat loss of taste by quitting smoking, by following good oral hygiene and treating the underlying disease.
What is loss of taste?
The flavors in your food can be tasted because of a combination of your ability to taste and smell.
These taste disorders can range from obstructions in or damage to the nose to damage to the brain and nervous system in general.
The decreased ability to taste certain types of foods is known medically as Hypogeusia.
On the other side, the absence of entire taste is termed as Ageusia. Whereas, Dysgeusia refers to the presence of a metallic, rancid or foul taste in the mouth.
What causes loss of taste?
A wide variety of causes exist for impaired taste. Many common conditions can affect your ability to taste, such as:
- Common cold
- Throat infections, such as strep throat and pharyngitis
- Sinus infections
- Other causes of impaired taste include:
- Gum inflammation, such as gingivitis or periodontitis
- Medications, including lithium, thyroid medications and cancer treatments (1)
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Head or ear injuries
- Congenital disorders
- Chemical exposures/ toxins
- Nasal polyps
- Poor oral hygiene
- Radiation therapy to the head and neck
- Surgical procedures in the head and neck region
- Tooth decay
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
People with disorders of the nervous system and certain disorders like multiple sclerosis and Bell’s palsy may sometimes experience impaired taste.
How can you restore your sense of taste?
Treatment options depend on addressing what’s causing loss of taste.
- Quitting smoking has numerous health benefits, including restoring your lost sense of taste. So, if you are smoking, consider leaving it one for all.
- Bacterial sinusitis, salivary glands, and throat infections can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of flu, cold and allergic rhinitis that can impact taste are relieved with decongestants or anti-histamines.
- Prescription medications might be necessary for a disorder like Bell’s palsy. In the case of aging, however, some taste loss is to be expected.
Improved oral care can return your sense of taste and also comfortably remove any odor-causing bacteria. Through proper brushing and flossing, you can keep your teeth plaque-free and even restore your sense of taste to normal.