Problems with Taste


Relief Is Possible

Although there is no treatment for any gradual loss of taste that occurs with aging, relief from taste disorders is possible for many older people. Depending on the cause of your problem with taste, your doctor may be able to treat it or suggest ways to cope with it. Scientists are studying how loss of taste occurs so that treatments can be developed.

Some patients regain their sense of taste when the condition or illness that is causing the loss of taste is over. For example, a middle ear infection often affects taste temporarily. Often, correcting the general medical problem can restore the sense of taste.

Check Your Medications

Often, a certain medication is the cause of a taste disorder, and stopping or changing the medicine may help eliminate the problem. If you take medications, ask your doctor if they can affect your sense of taste. If so, ask if you can take other medications or safely reduce the dose.

Do not stop taking your medications unless directed by your doctor. Your doctor will work with you to get the medicines you need while trying to reduce unwanted side effects.

If Your Diet Is Affected

Because your sense of taste may gradually decline, you may not even notice the change. But your diet may change, and not for the better. You may lose interest in food and eat less, but you may choose foods that are high in fat and sugars. Or, you may eat more than you should, hoping to get more flavor from every bite.

If you lose some or all of your sense of taste, there are things you can do to make your food taste better:

  • 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 food
  • If your diet permits, use small amounts of cheese, bacon bits, or butter on vegetables, as well as olive oil or toasted nuts
  • Avoid combination dishes, such as casseroles, that can hide individual flavors and dilute taste.

If Your Sense of Taste Does Not Return

If you cannot regain your sense of taste, there are things you can do to ensure your safety. Take extra care to avoid food that may have spoiled. If you live with other people, ask them to smell and taste food to make sure it is fresh. People who live alone should discard food if there is a chance it is spoiled.

For those who wish to have additional help, there may be support groups in your area. These are often associated with smell and taste clinics in medical school hospitals. Some online bulletin boards also allow people with smell and taste disorders to share their experiences. Not all people with taste disorders will regain their sense of taste, but most can learn to live with it.