March 8, 2011

Causes of 3 Different Types of Tasting Disorders

Posted in Category : Natural Cures

If you take your sense of taste for granted, rest assured that you are not alone. Many of us only realize the full importance of our taste buds only after getting affected by a taste disorder. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 200,000 people in the US seek medical help for treating taste and smell disorders each year. Most of us do not think of tasting disorders to be serious; however they can lead to problems like loss of appetite, poor quality of life, malnutrition and even depression. Tasting disorders may also affect your ability to identify foods and beverages that are harmful and should not be consumed.

There are around 10,000 taste buds situated on your tongue, the lining of your throat and the roof of your mouth. Different types of taste cells are scattered all over your mouth and tongue, but as you cross the age of 50 you are likely to start losing some of them. Under normal circumstances, when you eat or drink something, your taste cells get stimulated and send messages to the brain, through three specialized nerves. These signals help you identify the taste of the food or beverage that you have just had. Your taste buds can identify five basic tastes types, which include sweet, salty sour, umami (savory) and bitter. For detecting the more complex tastes and flavors, you require your sense of smell. However, any problem in the brain or the nervous system can adversely affect your sense of taste and smell. Tasting disorders are classified mainly into three types, which include –


This tasting disorder occurs when your ability to distinguish between different tastes like salty, sweet, sour, savory and bitter reduces. You are suffering from hypogeusia in case you experience a decrease in taste sensitivity.

There are several different factors that could cause you to suffer from hypogeusia, some of which include

  • Dehydration
  • Smoking
  • Tongue burns
  • Undergoing radiation therapy
  • Use of antidepressants

At times, this tasting disorder could also occur due to medical conditions like Bell’s palsy and Sjogren’s syndrome. Hypoguesia may be temporary or long-term, depending upon its causes.


The inability to identify taste is referred to as ageusia. This inability may apply to just one taste sensation (example sweet, sour) or all the taste sensations at the same time.

Some of the most common causes of ageusia include –

  • Advancing age
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Lack of adequate dental hygiene
  • Respiratory infections
  • Smoking
  • Use of certain medication

At times, this disorder could occur because of severe health problems like nerve damage, nutritional deficiency, Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus.

In most instances, this disorder is temporary and gets resolved once its underlying cause is treated. However, permanent ageusia, though rare, can occur as a result of unidentifiable or untreatable causes like nerve damage.


A tasting disorder in which a foul, rancid, metallic, bad or salty taste persists in your mouth can be described as dysgeusia. You may be suffering from this disorder if your sense of taste seems to have gotten distorted.

There are several different factors that could cause you to suffer from this tasting disorder. Some of the possible causes of dysgeusia include –

  • Chemotherapy
  • Deficiency of zinc or vitamins in the body
  • Disorder of the brain or the nervous system
  • Minor ailments like the cold or gum diseases
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Trauma to the head area
  • Tumor in the brain
  • Use of certain medication

Treating the underlying cause of dysgeusia usually cures this tasting disorder. However, if the problem has occurred due to unidentifiable or untreatable factors it may be permanent.

Many of us mistake loss of smell for a tasting disorder. In case you suspect that you may be suffering from either of these problems, set up an appointment with an otolaryngologist, i.e., a doctor who specializes in treating the ear, nose, throat, head and neck.