Taste Disorders (cont.)
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How are taste disorders diagnosed?
Both taste and smell disorders are diagnosed by an otolaryngologist, a doctor of the ear, nose, throat, head, and neck. An otolaryngologist can determine the extent of your taste disorder by measuring the lowest concentration of a taste quality that you can detect or recognize. You may also be asked to compare the tastes of different substances or to note how the intensity of a taste grows when a substance's concentration is increased.
Scientists have developed taste testing in which the patient responds to different chemical concentrations. This may involve a simple “sip, spit, and rinse” test, or chemicals may be applied directly to specific areas of the tongue.
An accurate assessment of your taste loss will include, among other things, a physical examination of your ears, nose, and throat; a dental examination and assessment of oral hygiene; a review of your health history; and a taste test supervised by a health care professional.
Are taste disorders serious?
Taste disorders can weaken or remove an early warning system that most of us take for granted. Taste helps us detect spoiled food or liquids and, for some people, the presence of ingredients to which they are allergic.
Loss of taste can create serious health issues. A distorted sense of taste can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other illnesses that require sticking to a specific diet. When taste is impaired, a person may change his or her eating habits. Some people may eat too little and lose weight, while others may eat too much and gain weight.
Loss of taste can cause us to eat too much sugar or salt to make our food taste better. This can be a problem for people with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. In severe cases, loss of taste can lead to depression.
Loss of taste and smell can also be a sign of certain degenerative diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease. If you are experiencing a taste disorder, talk with your physician.
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