What is the Possible Cause for my Loss of Taste?

By: Kelly Warf, Au.D.
Michael Layland, M.D.

Many experienced a loss of taste and smell due to Covid-19 this past year. But loss or altered sense of taste and smell is something ENT specialists have been diagnosing and treating for many years. Below is a list of etiologies that have contributed to a loss or reduced perception of taste.

  • Injury to nerve:
    Complete loss of taste due to injury to the head or neck is rare since many nerves supply the tongue. However, an injury to the head or neck can effect one of the innervating nerves, altering the sense of taste.
  • Infection:
    Infection of the teeth, gums, mouth, or throat can cause swelling or reduce blood flow of the tongue or change the chemical perception of taste.
  • Inflammation:
    Any swelling of the tongue can cause taste buds to close, reducing sense of taste.
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies:
    Deficiencies in B12 and zinc have been associated with loss of taste.
  • Dry mouth:
    Dry mouth can be the result of disease, for example Sjogren’s syndrome, Diuretics (water pills), or radiation therapy.
  • Medication side effect:
    Changes in taste receptors could be a result of a medication side effect. This may be seen in ACE inhibitors (lisinopril or captopril), antibiotics (amoxicillin), diuretics (acetazolamide), or chemotherapy.
  • Nerve damage or trauma:
    Bell’s palsy is an inflammation of the facial nerve (which innervates the tongue), which can result in change in taste. Surgery or trauma to the head or neck could also result in damage to the innervating nerve.
  • Neurological disorders:
    This can be seen in multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Metabolic disorders:
    This can be seen in kidney disease, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.
  • Tobacco use:
    Chemicals (tobacco) can change the perception of taste.
  • Acid reflux and GERD:
    People often complain of ‘sour taste’ due to stomach acid/enzymes affecting how well taste buds work.
  • Aging:
    Taste receptors diminish with age.

Treatment will depend on the cause; this might be with vitamins, switching medications, managing a disorder (diabetes, thyroid, or kidney problem), and/or stop smoking.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, please schedule an appointment with us today so we can determine the underlying cause and create a treatment plan. Schedule your appointment at the Ear, Nose, and Throat Center today. Call 847-685-1000.

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