Ageusia is a medical term for the loss of taste. Temporary or persistent, partial or complete loss of taste can have many causes but is often associated with a loss of the sense of smell (anosmia).
What is ageusia?
Ageusia is a taste disorder characterized by the loss, decrease, or absence of the sense of taste. It is caused by a dysfunction of multiple sensory receptors, including the taste buds. It can be considered as:
- Total ageusia, when it is characterized by the loss of perception of the five tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami.
- Partial ageusia, also called hypogeusia, when the loss of taste affects only certain tastes.
What are the causes of ageusia?
There are many explanations for ageusia, but it is often associated with anosmia, which is the loss of the sense of smell. For this reason, medical professionals sometimes refer to it as anosmia-ageusia syndrome.
With or without anosmia, ageusia can be caused by:
- Nerve damage, especially to the glossopharyngeal nerve
- Facial paralysis
- A respiratory illness, especially in the case of a cold or pneumonia
- Viral infections (COVID-19)
- Inhalation of toxic substances
- Aging, which can cause changes in sensory receptors
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Taking certain medications, such as calcium channel blockers, antiarrhythmics, antiepileptic drugs, copper chelators, or, less commonly, certain hypoglycemic medications
What are the consequences of ageusia?
Ageusia causes a decrease or loss of taste. It is often associated with the loss of the sense of smell (anosmia).
Although ageusia is not a direct health risk, it can have harmful consequences if it persists.
In the long term, loss of taste can lead to :
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, due to a lack of enjoyment when eating food.
- A sense of malaise that can manifest itself in declining morale, interest, and motivation, and in the most severe cases can lead to depressive disorders, withdrawal, and isolation.
Ageusia with anosmia can present a safety problem. Loss of taste and smell limits or even prevents recognition of certain warning signs, such as an acrid taste in the mouth or smoky odors.
Treatment of ageusia: what are the solutions for loss of taste?
Treatment of ageusia depends on the cause of the taste loss. Diagnosis can be made by a general practitioner, or by an otolaryngologist (ENT) in the case of ageusia with anosmia. To confirm it some medical tests may be performed. In particular, an electrogustometry test can be performed to analyze the cause of the taste loss.
Treatment for ageusia
Depending on the diagnosis, different solutions may be considered to treat or limit ageusia. For example, drug treatment may be prescribed if anosmia ageusia syndrome is due to a respiratory infection. The complications of taste loss can also be limited through a rehab program.
Prevention of agueusia
The occurrence of some forms of ageusia and anosmia can be prevented by limiting certain risk factors, like:
- Not to smoke
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet