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Ageusia (Loss of Taste) – Definition, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Ageusia is a disease in which the patient does not experience the taste of food or drinks. Why does this disorder occur and how can you manage this condition?

What is Ageusia?

Ageusia is the loss of taste functionality in the tongue. People who suffer from this disease cannot distinguish between sweet and salty or sour and bitter. Often, the sick ones confuse ageusia with anosmia – the loss of the sense of smell – because the taste is very closely tied to our sense of smell.

Ageusia is a type of taste disorder, but in its proper form, it is extremely rare. Varieties of this disease, however, are much more common. In the case of hypogeusia, the patient has a partial loss of taste, and with dysgeusia, a metallic taste in the mouth is accompanied by a burning sensation on the tongue.

As you age, the chances of getting one of these conditions may increase.

No matter what taste disorder a patient may have, it can be dangerous to his or her health as it creates risky situations. Aged people change their diet and often fall into depression because of unwanted changes. Also, they could put too much salt or sugar in the food to get a better sense of its taste.

Ageusia and its different varieties are particularly dangerous to people allergic to specific substances. If a patient does not see the allergen in its meal and experience it, they may not be able to recognize the taste of the life-threatening ingredient. Ageusia sometimes presents itself as a symptom of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Bell’s palsy.

Causes of Ageusia

When we chew or drink, molecules are released that stimulate particular sensory cells in the mouth and taste buds. These taste buds are grouped within the taste receptors of the tongue and, when activated, send signals to the taste nerves in the brain.

If any obstructions or disturbances occur along this “chain,” there is a risk of the occurrence of a taste disorder, including ageusia.

The most usual cause of this condition is tissue damage to the nerves that are related to the tongue. Another reason is that the patient has issues with their endocrine system, suffering from a deficiency of zinc or vitamin B3.

Diseases such as diabetes mellitus, renal failure, dental problems, certain types of cancer, or multiple sclerosis can also bring about taste disorders such as Ageusia.

The loss of taste may also be a side effect of taking certain medications or a consequence of stress and anxiety. It is also essential to practice good oral hygiene.

How are taste disorders diagnosed?

If you believe that you might have a taste disorder, go to an ENT doctor. They will appoint specific tests. Patients are usually subjected to several tests where the saliva is examined. Certain substances will be put on the tongue to be used to test the functionality of the taste buds.

Treatment of Ageusia

Treatment of ageusia is similar to anosmia. A change in diet and taking certain medications can gradually improve sensory perception. In rarer and more severe cases, operational intervention could be appointed.