Dysgeusia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Overview

Dysgeusia, or taste impairment is a distorted sense of taste. It is also often associated with Ageusia, which is the total lack of flavor, and Hypogeusia, which is the decrease in taste sensitivity. Dysgeusia means that you are going through a change of flavor and that the food may present a disgusting, salty, rancid or metallic taste. Altered taste perception has a negative effect on the quality of life. Dysgeusia can occur due to an underlying disease, such as sinus infection, common cold, diabetes. Most people experience impaired taste temporarily, though it is very rare to lose the sense of taste entirely. About 75% of old people, above the age of 80, are likely to have taste impairment.

Causes

The
possible causes of dysgeusia are shown as follows:

  • Glossitis
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Reflux
  • Quinsy
  • B12 deficiency
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Copper deficiency
  • Mercury poisoning
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • Tooth abscess
  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth infection
  • Oral thrush
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Tonsillitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Adenoiditis
  • Common cold
  • Flu
  • Cancer treatment
  • Meditations

Symptoms

The main symptom of dysgeusia is distortion in the sense of taste. People who experience taste impairment may have foul, rancid, metallic or salty feeling. Dysgeusia is often accompanied by burning mouth syndrome, glossitis or other oral conditions.

Diagnosis

It is difficult to diagnose and evaluate taste-related disorders, because taste functions in the mouth are closely related to the sense of smell and pain. If doctor suspects the patient have dysgeusia, he will first question about the symptoms, oral pain, ear infections, oral hygiene and stomach problems of the patient. The oral cavity, tongue and ear canal will be examined before medicines are prescribed. Besides, several tests are needed to diagnose dysgeusia. Magnetic imaging is used to inspect the cranial nerves for lesions. Electrophysiological tests are used to detect the abnormalities in the neurological makeup of the brainstem pathway. Chemical analysis of saliva is also performed in the taste receptor environment. Electron micrograph is an enlarged microscopic photograph of the taste buds that are used to test for pathological disorders such as dysgeusia.

Treatment

There
are many possible treatments that are effective in relieving the symptoms of
Dysgeusia according to different causes.

  • Increasing Saliva

Reduction
of saliva is the root cause of dysgeusia among patients whose condition occurs
as a side effect of some other treatment. Oral pilocarpine and artificial
saliva can increase the flow of saliva from salivary glands. Pilocarpine can stimulate
the salivary gland and activate production of saliva. Artificial saliva can mimic
natural saliva and help lubricate the patient’s mouth.

  • Zinc supplements

Most
distortion in the sense of taste is caused by lack of zinc. Patients can take
25 to 100mg of zinc supplements to help treat symptoms. However, since an
excess of zinc can damage immunity and imbalance the body physiologically, it
is recommended to use this supplement treatment cautiously.

  • Changing medication

In
many cases, dysgeusia is a side effect of some medical drugs, so changing these
drugs often cures this disease completely. For example, Eprosartan can cause
loss of taste and tongue numbness. If a doctor prescribes Valsartan to replace
Eprosartan, the symptoms will cease.

  • Alpha lipoic acid

Alpha
lipoic acid (ALA) is a natural antioxidant produced by human cells. You can
also consume it in the form of capsules or food rich in alpha lipoic acid. ALA can
improve the nerve conduction velocity and reduce damage to human tissue.

  •  Home remedies

There are also some treating measures that can be taken at home, including regular dental care, brushing, flossing, and using a good mouthwash, chewing sugar-free gum, drinking water and other fluids regularly and throughout the day and rinsing with a pinch of baking soda mixed in water. All these can help to treat this condition.

Keywords: Dysgeusia

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