Taste Disorders

As people age, we often times hear complaints that their foods do not taste as good or taste differently.  There are many potential reasons or causes.  The following resource recommends obtaining a medical evaluation to determine whether it is curable or if adjustments may be helpful.
If a person loses some or all of their sense of taste, there are things that you can do to assist with making their food taste better (if they approve and it is within their dietary recommendations):

  • Prepare foods with a variety of colors and textures.
  • Use aromatic herbs and hot spices to add more flavor; however, avoid adding more sugar or salt to foods.
  • Add small amounts of cheese, bacon bits, butter, olive oil, or toasted nuts on vegetables.
  • Avoid combination dishes, such as casseroles, that can hide individual flavors and dilute taste.

Can taste disorders be treated?

Many types of taste disorders are curable. For those that are not, counseling is available to help people adjust to their problem.

Diagnosis by an otolaryngologist is important to identify and treat the underlying cause of your disorder. If a certain medication is the cause, stopping or changing your medicine may help eliminate the problem. (Do not stop taking your medications unless directed by your doctor, however.) Some people, notably those with respiratory infections or allergies, regain their sense of taste when these conditions are resolved. Often, the correction of a general medical problem also can correct the loss of taste. Occasionally, a person may recover his or her sense of taste spontaneously. Proper oral hygiene is important to regaining and maintaining a well-functioning sense of taste.

Where can I find more information?

The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information about hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language. This directory is available at www.nidcd.nih.gov/directory.

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