What can cause a loss of the sense of taste?

Dr.ribhi murad asked...

I am in good health at 60 years old, but suddenly I lost sweet & sugar taste completely one month ago. I still taste all other stuffs & all types of food whether it's salty or spicy, etc. Any ideas?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Some loss of taste is normal as someone ages, but it usually occurs gradually. Since your loss of taste has happened suddenly, I would think that something else besides aging could be the cause. Sweetness is usually sensed on the front of the tongue, so keep that in mind as you try to figure out what has caused your problem. To get to the root of the problem, think about your life; have you done anything different in the past month? Tried new foods or products? Here are some things to consider about regarding loss of taste:

a) Are you on new medications? Zicam, ACE inhibitors, Beta blockers, allergy medications/ overactive bladder medications (they dry your mouth), and some antidepressants have been implicated in causing issues with taste.

b) Are you using new toothpaste or mouthwash? Some of these products are too strong and can change the "taste" of your mouth. Keep in mind that dental problems, such as tooth decay or poor hygiene, can also effect taste.

c) Are you having allergy/ sinus problems? This can definitely change your sense of taste.

d) Certain diseases, like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease, can change your sense of taste.

e) Have you had a head injury recently? Any weakness in your face? Sometimes diseases like small strokes or Bell's palsy can change your sense of taste.

I would recommend seeing your health care provider and getting examined to find out what is causing your loss of sweet taste. Your medications should be reviewed, and they need to examine you to rule out many of the issues I have listed above. Good luck!