Taste Disorders (cont.)

What are the taste disorders?

The most common taste disorder is phantom taste perception: a lingering, often unpleasant taste even though there is nothing in your mouth. People can also experience a reduced ability to taste sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami -- a condition called hypogeusia [hy-po-GYOO-zee-a]. Some people can't detect any tastes, which is called ageusia [ah-GYOO-zee-a]. True taste loss, however, is rare. Most often, people are experiencing a loss of smell instead of a loss of taste.

In other disorders of the chemical senses, an odor, a taste, or a flavor may be distorted. Dysgeusia [dis-GYOO-zee-a] is a condition in which a foul, salty, rancid, or metallic taste sensation persists in the mouth. Dysgeusia is sometimes accompanied by burning mouth syndrome, a condition in which a person experiences a painful burning sensation in the mouth. Although it can affect anyone, burning mouth syndrome is most common in middle-aged and older women.

What causes taste disorders?

Some people are born with taste disorders, but most develop them after an injury or illness. Among the causes of taste problems are:

  • Upper respiratory and middle ear infections
  • Radiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as insecticides and some medications, including some common antibiotics and antihistamines
  • Head injury
  • Some surgeries to the ear, nose, and throat (such as middle ear surgery) or extraction of the third molar (wisdom tooth)
  • Poor oral hygiene and dental problems.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/1/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Taste Disorders - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with taste disorders.
Taste Disorders - Causes Question: What were the causes of your taste disorders?
Taste Disorders - Treatments Question: What kinds of treatments have been effective for your taste disorders?
Taste Disorders - Patient Experience Question: Do you have a taste disorder? Please describe your experience.
Taste Disorders - Treatment Question: What type of treatment did you receive for your taste disorder.