What are taste disorders and their causes?

It’s easy to take your sense of taste for granted: you know grapefruits will be sour, mashed potatoes will be buttery and starchy, and ice cream will be sweet. But what if you could no longer experience those tastes as strongly – or at all? According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, nearly a quarter of a million people visited a doctor last year for problems with their chemical senses, including taste. Several types of taste disorders exist, including phantom perception, which causes a person to experience a lingering, unpleasant taste with no apparent cause; hypogeusia, which reduces a person’s ability to experience the basic types of taste – salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami; and ageusia, which results in no tasting ability whatsoever. It’s important to note that complete loss of taste is not common; it is more likely that the person has a condition resulting in the loss of smell, which is closely related to the sense of taste.

Causes of taste disorders vary widely. Although it can be a congenital condition existing at birth, many people experience a loss of taste after certain types of injuries and sickness. According to NIDCD, these include: upper respiratory and middle ear infections; exposure to radiation therapy near the head or neck; exposure to insecticides or chemicals found in certain medications; injury to the head; and surgeries on the ear, nose or throat, including tooth extraction. Taste disorders can also be caused by tooth decay and poor oral hygiene. For this reason, it is important to visit your True Dental Discounts, dentist every six months and take care of any issues in your teeth or mouth. It could mean the difference between tasting a delicious strawberry and chewing on a bland piece of fruit!

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