Understanding Taste Disorders

Taste is one of the traditional five senses. It usually refers to the ability to detect the flavor of substances. It involves a complex process where tiny molecules are released by certain substances that finds its way into special sensory cells in the mouth, nose and throat. These cells are then stimulated by the molecules and transmit messages through the nerves of the brain which then identifies the taste.

Most of the taste cells, also known as gustatory cells are clustered within taste buds located in the mouth, tongue and throat. These cells react to substances and then send taste information into the nerve fibers and then to the brain to identify them.

There are at least five different taste sensations that can be identified- sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami, which is the taste usually identified from chicken broth, meat and some cheeses. It is these tastes, along with other factors such as smell, texture and temperature, help provide the perception of flavor.

What is Taste disorder?

Some people may experience a lessened ability to taste certain flavors. Others may experience having a different taste sensation than what is normal. People with a reduced ability to identify common taste sensations are known to be experiencing hypogeusia.

There are also other people who may even be unfortunate enough to even lose their sense of taste. The disorder to detect or identify any taste sensation is called ageusia. As the sense of taste and smell are closely associated to each other, some people may confuse taste loss to a taste disorder when actually it is caused by a disorder in a person’s sense of smell.

Causes of taste disorders

Taste disorders can be cause by various things. Some chemosensory disorders affecting taste can be caused by certain ailments such as upper respiratory infections. Some may also be caused by an injury that affects the gustatory cells in the nose, throat or mouth. Cells being exposed to harsh chemicals such as insecticides can also cause considerable taste loss. Injuries to the head can also sometimes cause taste loss as well as certain treatments to the head and neck that requires the use of radiation.

How to treat taste disorder?

Common treatment for certain taste disorders involves avoiding certain substances that seem to cause them. Others include treating certain ailments and conditions that seem to affect the ability to taste. When such things are done, recovery of the chemosenses that affect taste usually happens gradually.