Loss of Taste
The sensations associated with taste are susceptible to changes with aging. These changes in taste may cause a change in your desire to eat. This in turn may affect your nutrition. Your taste sensations may disappear. Physicians call this ageusia. It is much less common than partial loss of taste called hypogeusia or a change in taste sensation called dysgeusia.
These changes can be entirely caused by the aging process. They often are made worse or occur more quickly in patients taking a wide variety of drugs. A number of medical conditions are also associated with changes in taste sensation. For many reasons then, in the elderly taste sensations become less intense. This in turn leads to malnutrition and progressive weight loss. Weight loss in the elderly may progress to wasting, which directly affects one’s health and quality of life.
Important Points in Treatment
Blunting of the sensation of taste makes it difficult for the elderly to be stimulated by food. This stimulation is important in triggering the digestive process. This coupled with the decrease in palatability leads to poor nutrition. Your doctor will review your medical history, particularly your medication history. This is an attempt to find an association with reduction in the sense of taste that can be changed or corrected to restore some of the lost sense. When the change is a result of aging rather than drugs or disease it may not be reversible.
Consider and experiment with condiments and flavors that intensify the taste of foods. Try a diet that reaches beyond the blunted taste threshold. Bland foods, often the traditional fare of the elderly, may do more nutritional harm than good.
For diabetic patients, the loss of the ability to taste or the raising of the threshold for sweet taste may lead to the excessive ingestion of sugar. In patients on a salt-restricted diet, the raising of the threshold for the taste of salt can lead to excessive salt ingestion.
Call Our Office If ...
- You experience a change in the taste of foods.
- You have a change in your sense of taste.
- You develop progressive or unexplained weight loss.