Ageusia is a medical disorder in which a person’s tongue losses the function of taste. There is complete loss of taste in ageusia. The affected person is unable to detect any type of taste such as sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
The condition comes under group of taste disorders; however, it is rare to occur in comparison with other taste disorders such as phantom taste perception, dysgeusia, hypogeusia etc. All the other forms are milder than ageusia.
Normally, ageusia can be since birth or it may develop later in life due to neurological disorders or endocrinal problems.Dry mouth is one of the most common causes. Traumatic injury to tongue or infections of the tongue are few other reasons. Treatment of ageusia depends on the underlying cause.
Common Causes Of Ageusia
There are varieties of factors responsible for causing ageusia, the extreme form of tastelessness. It is a taste disorder in which the taste function of tongue gets impaired completely. Some people are born without having sense of taste. However, ageusia as it is called medically is rare where there is complete loss of taste.
Here are some of the common reasons for complete loss of taste:
- Ageusia can occur due to neurological conditions. Damage to nerves that innervate tongue can cause this disorder. Especially when the glossopharyngeal nerve is damaged it can produce loss of sense of taste. This nerve innervates and carries taste sensation from back part of the tongue. Damage to the lingual nerve which carries taste sensation from front two thirds of tongue can also lead to this condition. It can occur in stroke, people suffering from Bell’s palsy, multiple sclerosis and many other neurological disorders.
- Ageusia can also occur in people suffering from diabetes mellitus and other endocrinal disorders such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- Ageusia can be a symptom caused because of side effect of medicine. Certain antibiotics, anti hypertensive medications, antidepressants and antihistamines can cause ageusia.
- Deficiency of minerals such as zinc, copper, and nickel can be the reason.
- Dental problems and burn injury to tongue.
- Excessive alcohol and smoking can damage the taste buds completely in some people causing ageusia.
- Aging is another cause of ageusia. Many people over the age of 80 have deteriorating sense of taste. This is because there is gradual damage to the taste bud of the tongue.
- Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.
Symptoms And Diagnosis Of Ageusia
Ageusia is itself a symptom of many conditions. Clinically patient suffering from ageusia will have no taste of any kind. He is not able to taste any food whether it is bitter, sweet, sour, or pungent and salty.
Ageusia is diagnosed by ENT specialist. This condition is diagnosed with taste test. This test is to determine the type of taste a person can sense at its lowest concentration. To do this the health care practitioner will give the patient several foods that are of different taste. The person suffering from ageusia will not be able to detect single taste because there is complete loss of taste from the tongue.
The doctor will also examine the patient for any underlying cause that may be responsible for the disease. If he detects any, it will help him to determine the course of treatment.
Treatment Options For Ageusia
Treatment of ageusia will depend on the underlying cause. If the cause is treatable, there are greater chances of reversing the condition at least to some extent. For example if the underlying cause is smoking or drinking alcohol, quitting these substances can improve the chances of regaining taste sensation. In some cases dietary changes, substituting particular medicine can be useful. However, if ageusia is caused due to aging or due to congenital reasons, there is nothing that can be done.
Besides medications and alteration of diet and lifestyle, there are certain natural remedies that may be helpful. Paste of ginger and honey or lemon juice is beneficial for retrieving taste in people suffering from ageusia. Herbal tea prepared from kava kava is also beneficial for to increase sense of taste in people suffering from ageusia.