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Monday, July 6, 2020

Dysgeusia (Altered Sense of Taste): Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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Dysgeusia is a word used in reference to an altered sense of taste. It has broad variety of triggers. Some of the common causes, such as the common cold, are known to resolve on their own, while other causes such as dementia are chronic conditions.

Taste distortion is usually a very noticeable issue. Most people who have this condition describe tastes that are very specific and unusual.

In some cases, when it is not certain whether what you have is an impairment of smell or taste, you may have to get your sense of taste checked or evaluated with the aid of a diagnostic test.

It is also crucial to get a diagnosis for what causes your symptoms, especially if what causes your dysgeusia is not something as apparent as a cold sore or pregnancy.

Many of the conditions that lead to tears impairment, such as vitamin deficiencies, are very treatable. And often, you can expect your sense of taste to improve after treatment.

Symptoms

An altered sense of taste can become a bother while you are drinking or eating, and even when you are not do not have anything in your mouth. Some people with this issue have complained of a bitter taste, a metallic taste, salty taste, and sometimes an unpleasantly sweet taste.

An altered sense of taste can interfere with how you enjoy all or some kinds of food, but it rarely causes nausea. However, dysgeusia will likely cause aversion to some foods.

Associated Symptoms

With dysgeusia, people may also notice other symptoms. These other symptoms are often related to the cause of dysgeusia and are not as a result of taste distortion.

Associated symptoms include:

Complications

When you deal with dysgeusia for a short period of time, you might begin to have a decreased appetite. You may start to lose weight—even if these issues only last a few days. Many of the pregnant women who experience dysgeusia are known to lose several pounds.

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However, in a healthy person, appetite is restored immediately dysgeusia resolves, and people will gain their weight back again.

When there is an issue of taste distortion, it is usually caused by a long-term condition like gastrointestinal (GI) disease, diabetes, or even a stroke, and it can lead to malnutrition. There are also people who record weight loss

Causes

The causes of dysgeusia are numerous. Some of the causes are related to apparent changes in the mouth, such as dental problems, as a dry mouth, or chemotherapy, while others may be based on changes in the neurological area of taste sensation, such as migraines and pregnancy.

Common temporary causes of dysgeusia include:

  • Postnasal drip
  • A cold
  • Pregnancy
  • Distorted sense of smell
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Xerostomia—dry mouth
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) infection
  • Smoking
  • Allergies
  • Migraines
  • Medication
  • Constipation

Medications

There are several dozens of medications that can lead to dysgeusia. If a person takes medicine that may lead to taste distortion as a common side effect, this does not exactly mean that you will have to deal with the dysgeusia.

And sometimes, you can get dysgeusia with only a few doses, or it may suddenly appear after you have been taking the pills for years.

Some of the pills that are commonly associated with dysgeusia are:

  • Thyroid medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Chemotherapeutic medicines
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antibiotics

Chronic Illnesses

Many medical conditions may lead to an impaired sense of taste. A large percentage of the medical conditions that may interfere with the sense of taste also interfere with the sense of smell, and in many cases, it can be hard to distinguish which of these senses has been affected.

Common medical illnesses that are connected with an impaired taste sensation include:

Chemical Exposure

It has been noted that chemical toxin exposure can cause an impairment of a person’s sense of taste. Chemicals in cosmetics, detergents, pesticides, and industrial environments may enter into a person’s system through the mouth, skin, or nasal passages.

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The Sense of Taste

The sense of taste is always activated, but it is very much sensitive while a person is eating and within about one hour after eating.

Natural taste is mediated by what is known as taste receptors in a person’s mouth. The receptors will send signals to the facial nerve (known as cranial nerve seven), the glossopharyngeal nerve (known as cranial nerve nine), and the vagus nerve (known as cranial nerve 10).

These nerves will then send signals to the sensory area of a person’s brain, allowing you to identify the taste. The taste sensation naturally elicits a negative, positive, or neutral response.

A disruption in a person’s sense of taste may occur as a result of damage or impairment in any segment of this pathway.

Any traumatic injury that affects the nerves that mediate your sense of taste or your mouth can cause dysgeusia. A person can suffer this due to surgery, an accidental injury, or after a severe infection.

Diagnosis

The was dysgeusia is evaluated or diagnosed based on determining whether or not you have an altered sense of taste and be able to identifying the cause.

There are dozens of diagnostic tests that are known to be used to evaluate taste. A few of the examinations will involve measuring how you respond upon your exposure to some tastes. Other tests will have to evaluate your nerve function.

You may require one or more of the diagnostic tests below to evaluate your taste distortion:

  • Electrogustometry
  • Taste-threshold test
  • Taste-quadrant test
  • Taste-suprathreshold test
  • Flavor discrimination test

Gustatory event potentials

If the taste distortion problems you have seems to be connected to a problem that is related to your sense of smell, there may be a need for you to have at least one of the following diagnostic smell tests:

  • The University of Connecticut Test Battery
  • The Brief Smell Identification Test
  • University Of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) or “Sniffin’ Sticks”
  • The Pocket Smell Test

Blood Tests

There might be a need for you to have blood tests to spot nutritional deficits that may be caused by dietary changes if the dysgeusia you are dealing with has made you avoid certain foods.

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It is vital that you get tested for any possible nutritional deficiencies if you have dealt with dysgeusia for longer than one or two months. Usually, nutritional effects can not be easily detected in the first few weeks.

Tests that can be used to spot a nutritional deficit include specialized blood tests that can measure your calcium level, iron level, vitamin B12 level, potassium level, calcium level, and a complete blood count (CBC) to know your red blood cells (RBC) count.

There may also be a need for you to have your mercury or lead level checked to know if you have been exposed to either of these agents.

Imaging Tests

If you or your doctor is concerned that you could have an infection, a growth, or a structural issue in your brain, throat, or mouth, you would have to get an imaging test, such as computerized tomography (CT), an X-ray, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to find out the area of concern.

Treatment

The available treatment of dysgeusia may include a few approaches, and sometimes they may need to be combined. If you have been found to have a nutritional deficit, there I need for it to be addressed and corrected.

There are a number of treatments that may help to lessen your sense of taste distortion. Also, if the likely cause of your taste distortion has been identified, you would need to be treated for the cause .

Nutrition

Typically, mineral and vitamin deficiencies can be fixed with supplements. If you are dealing with a major weakness, you may have options for a prescription-strength supplement as prescribed by your doctor.

Taste Sensation

There are a several strategies that can be used to help reduce your altered sense of taste. Some dentists and doctors suggest the use of artificial saliva products.

At times, good oral hygiene, such as brushing, flossing, and regular use of mouthwash, may be helpful to alleviate the effects. Also, if it is discovered that the overgrowth of oral bacteria is responsible for your dysgeusia, then taking care of your oral health may help to resolve the problem permanently.

Diet

Your doctor may have to recommend dietary modifications to aid a reduction in the unpleasant taste you have in your mouth or to reduce a GI condition.

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For instance, some experts have suggested eating food with only a few ingredients so that you do not have the tastes mixed, potentially leading to an unpleasant effect. Preservatives, Sweetened food, and heavily spiced foods can leave an unpleasant residue in a person’s mouth, so it is a great idea to avoid such products.

Dietary strategies can also help to alleviate some GI conditions. For instance, raw and fiber fruit and vegetables may help to combat constipation. Also, if you are dealing with any food intolerance, the Bad breath the results from it can exacerbate your dysgeusia.

Treatment of the Underlying Problem

Many possible causes of taste distortion, such as common cold and pregnancy, will resolve on their own.

If your smoking habit has been found to be the cause of your dysgeusia, then the possible solution is smoking cessation. If you are taking any medication that leads to dysgeusia, your doctor may need to change your prescription.

You may also require treatment to fix the cause of your taste distortion. For instance, constipation can be treated with stool softeners and diet. Allergies can easily be managed with steroids or antihistamines.

Conditions like Alzheimer’s dementia have no form of treatment, and the problem with altered taste must be addressed as adequately as possible to help better nutrition and appetite.

We hope that you found this article helpful. Kindly leave a comment below.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

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