Taste diseases characteristics and causes

Simon Doyle

There are several taste diseases that can considerably affect the health of people such as hypogeusia, ageusia, dysgeusia and phantogeusia. The sense of taste fulfills different very important functions for the body. In the first place, it allows you to differentiate flavors and enjoy the culinary experience, awakening sensations, emotions and even helping to fix memories..

On the other hand, being able to perceive the different flavors makes people cause them to eat, which encourages the intake of food that is vital for the proper functioning of the body.

In addition, the correct identification of the different flavors allows people to recognize damaged or decomposed foods, which can prevent their ingestion and subsequent harmful effect on the body.

There are various taste disorders: some may be temporary, while others are permanent.

The causes that generate them range from the excessive consumption of harmful substances, such as cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, to the consumption of certain medications associated with treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the submission to some surgical interventions, or even the natural aging process.

Total loss of the sense of taste is rare, and in many cases taste disorders are associated with smell disorders.

Sometimes the symptoms are not very evident, so it is recommended to be attentive to any variation in the perception of taste, to be able to identify the disorder in time, if it does exist..

Article index

  • 1 Taste diseases: main characteristics and their most common causes
    • 1.1 - Hypogeusia
    • 1.2 - Ageusia
    • 1.3 - Dysgeusia
    • 1.4 - Phantogeusia
  • 2 References

Taste diseases: main characteristics and their most common causes

- Hypogeusia

Hypogeusia is the decrease in the sense of taste, usually for a certain time. It is important to note that hypogeusia does not imply the total loss of taste, only a decrease in the ability to identify the different flavors.

This disease can be acquired as a result of some medicine or medical procedure, or it can also have been inherited.

The decreased perception of flavors includes all classifications (bitter, sour, sweet and salty). Hypogeusia is more often found in the elderly.


Hypogeusia is associated with a lack of zinc, reactions to certain antibiotics used in chemotherapy and radiotherapy or some antidepressants.

It can also be a consequence of excessive consumption of cigarettes, drugs and alcohol, and of contact with some aggressive chemical substances associated with some jobs.

Some surgical interventions can cause hypogeusia, such as removal of the larynx or operations on the eardrum. And, in some cases, hypogeusia is a consequence of aging.

Hypogeusia can be prevented in many cases by observing working conditions and avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.

- Ageusia

Ageusia refers to the total absence of the sense of taste. The diagnosis of this taste disorder is complex because the first symptoms are not very obvious..

In some cases, ageusia manifests itself in some parts of the tongue. In such cases, people may not realize their inability to taste the flavors; they may feel that they perceive it with less intensity, but do not consider it a taste disorder.

Patients who have been diagnosed with ageusia tend to lose their appetite. Although the disease itself is not fatal, the loss of appetite that occurs as a result can lead to weight loss and a decline in quality of life.


The total absence of the ability to perceive flavors is extremely rare. Perhaps for this reason there is little scientific research on the matter, because there are few subjects on which it can be investigated.

However, it has been determined that ageusia tends to be related to taste-related damage or interruption of the cranial nerves..

Taking some medications, such as Clopidogrel (an antiplatelet), has been linked to ageusia.

Ageusia has also been seen in patients who have suffered from middle ear disorders.

- Dysgeusia

Dysgeusia is a taste disorder associated with the sustained perception of a metallic and rancid taste in the mouth.

Patients diagnosed with dysgeusia also report feeling a strong bitter taste spontaneously when trying sweet foods.

Patients with dysgeusia tend to lose weight and the experience of eating is very unpleasant, because they always feel a bitter taste in their mouth.

There is a decrease in nutrient intake; Dysgeusia sufferers may abstain from eating almost entirely due to the unpleasantness of the experience.


The most common causes of dysgeusia are linked to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments and to some drugs used during these processes..

It is common for taste buds and some olfactory receptors to be damaged in cancer patients.

Healthy people have the possibility of rapidly replenishing cells but, in the case of cancer patients, it is more complicated due to constant exposure to radiation.

Some oral infections caused by fungi, viruses or bacteria can also cause dysgeusia..

Contact with some hairdressing products has also been associated with dysgeusia, and also the overstimulation of the bitter receptors of the tongue, which implies that the bitter threshold is increased.

Some surgical procedures related to the ear can cause dysgeusia; in this case, it is common for the symptoms to gradually disappear, until they disappear completely.

For prolonged dysgeusia, it is advisable to change eating habits, drink plenty of water, chew slower and vary meals to prevent taste receptors from adapting to specific flavors.

- Phantogeusia

Phantogeusia is associated with the sudden perception of a bitter taste in the mouth, without external stimuli that may have generated this sensation.

Phantogeusia is the most common taste disorder. It is a temporary bitter taste perception, it is not prolonged as in the case of dysgeusia.


The cause most linked to phantogeusia is damage to the chorda tympani, which sends taste signals to the brain.

The chorda tympani can be damaged as a result of a tumor, a virus or the ingestion of a drug.


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