Ageusia refers to a condition wherein the tongue loses its sense of detecting different tastes, such as sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami – a pleasant tangy taste.
Ageusia can affect people of all ages, but is most common in those above the age of 50.
The recent coronavirus pandemic has also listed loss of sense of taste in some cases of patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus disease.
Ageusia is not a life-threatening condition, but once symptoms are recognized, prompt medical treatment is required, to ensure complete recovery of the patient.
Many common conditions can all affect your ability to taste, such as:
- common cold
- sinus infections or sinusitis
- throat infections, such as strep throat and pharyngitis
- salivary gland infections
Other causes of impaired taste include:
- gum inflammation, such as gingivitis or periodontal disease
- medication, including lithium, thyroid medications, and cancer treatments
- Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes dry mouth and dry eyes
- head or ear injuries
- nutritional deficiencies, especially vitamin B-12 and zinc
Common symptoms of ageusia consist of:
- Inability to distinguish any taste in food
- High blood pressure
- Underlying signs of diabetes
- Problems with teeth, gums and tongue
- Allergies and nasal congestion. Also Read: Keep Your House Dust-Free To Prevent Allergies
Diagnosis and Treatment
Both taste and smell disorders are diagnosed by an otolaryngologist, a doctor of the ear, nose, throat, head, and neck. An otolaryngologist can determine the extent of your taste disorder by measuring the lowest concentration of a taste quality that you can detect or recognize. You may also be asked to compare the tastes of different substances or to note how the intensity of a taste grows when a substance's concentration is increased.
Treating the underlying condition that causes your impaired sense of taste can help restore your taste. Bacterial sinusitis, salivary glands, and throat infections can be treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms of colds, flu, and allergic rhinitis that impact taste may be relieved with decongestants or antihistamines. Once you are feeling better, your sense of taste will most likely return quickly.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to minimize the effects of a nervous system disorder or an autoimmune disease that causes impaired taste.
Most often, lifestyle changes are all you need to improve your sense of taste. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking can allow you to taste your food fully. Ex-smokers begin to regain their sense of taste as quickly as two days after they have kicked the habit.
Proper dental hygiene can also reverse an impaired sense of taste. Gingivitis is the beginning of gum disease, which occurs when plaque remains on your gum line. Also Read: What causes Gum disease or Gingivitis?
Through brushing and flossing, you can eliminate plaque from your mouth, protect your teeth from disease and decay, and help regain your full sense of taste.