If you’ve talked to a dentist on your discount dental plan and suspect you may have a taste disorder, he may recommend you visit an otolaryngologist (also known as an ear/nose/throat doctor) for further testing and diagnosis. An otolaryngologist can measure the lowest concentration of taste you are able to experience. He or she will also conduct a comprehensive examination of the ears, nose, and throat and review your dental records.
If you do have a taste disorder, there are many possible ways of restoring your senses. For instance, your doctor may recognize that the disorder is caused by a medication you have been taking and prescribe a new one. Or, the disorder may be a result of severe allergies or a respiratory condition that can be cleared up. Until then, however, the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders gives a few suggestions to improve your eating experience with a reduced tasting capacity:
- Eat foods that vary in color and texture. This reduces the bland quality of some meals.
- Add herbs and spices to boost the flavor of your food. Garlic or spicy peppers can make a big difference. Do not try to increase the flavor by adding extra sugar or salt, however, as this can have negative consequences on your health.
- Add cheese, bacon bits, butter, olive oil or toasted nuts to mild-tasting foods like vegetables if your diet permits it.
- Avoid eating dishes that combine a bunch of flavors or foods, like casseroles. These make it difficult to distinguish individual tastes and can become bland.
No matter your strategy, it is important to work with a trusted health professional to regain your sense of taste. Although helpful in increasing the enjoyment of foods, the sense of taste also plays a crucial role in keeping you healthy. A person relies on taste to avoid eating spoiled or poisonous foods, and loss of taste can lead to many other serious health issues. People who lose their sense of taste often change their eating habits, adding too much salt or sugar in an attempt to regain flavor, and develop heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions. In rare cases, loss of taste can also indicate the presence of degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Talk to a doctor if you have concerns and make sure you stay alert for any changes in your health.