If You Lose Your Sense Of Taste, It Could Be A Sign Of This

When you eat or drink something, molecules are released and are picked up by gustatory cells in your taste buds, the roof of your mouth, and in your throat, per the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). The gustatory cells then send signals to the brain, which identifies specific tastes. However, if you have problems with your tongue, mouth, throat, or nerves, you may not be able to taste your food or drinks. According to the NIDCD, about 200,000 people in the U.S. see their doctors annually for problems with their sense of taste or smell, with up to 15% more U.S. adults experiencing taste or smell problems but not seeking medical attention.

One common taste disorder is hypogeusia, a reduced ability to taste sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (via NIDCD). Ageusia is when you can't taste anything, which is rare. However, it's common to think you lost your sense of taste when you may have lost your sense of smell. There are a variety of causes linked to taste disorders, and it's vital to discuss with your doctor so a loss or compromised sense of taste can be treated.

Dry mouth

Some medications can cause dry mouth, also called xerostomia, which can change the way you taste (or don't taste). According to MSD Manuals, approximately 400 prescription medications may cause dry mouth, and some over-the-counter medications do as well. Drugs that treat Parkinson's disease, cancer, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety may cause dry mouth. Medicines that block acetylcholine and radiation therapy may also cause dry mouth. Check the side effects of any medications you're taking or ask your pharmacist or prescribing doctor.

You have a couple of options when taking medications that cause dry mouth. You could ask your doctor to change your medications, or you could use a home treatment. MSD Manuals recommends taking your medication in the morning because dry mouth at night can worsen your dental health. Try a saliva substitute with one or more of the following ingredients — glycerin, hydroxyethylcellulose, or carboxymethylcellulose. These are in the dental health section of your pharmacy and come in different forms like oral rinses and gum.


There are diseases that can leave you with a changed sense of taste. For example, a 2016 study published in PLoS One found that people with subclinical hypothyroidism (when your thyroid underproduces hormones) had significant bitterness taste and smell dysfunction, but they improved three months after thyroid hormone treatment. 

In a 2017 study of patients with end-stage chronic kidney disease, researchers found that over 96% of them had a loss of taste, more than 92% had a change in taste, and over 31% reported having a metallic taste, which findings in the control group significantly lower.

Diabetes may increase your risk of a change in taste or loss of taste. For example, people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have trouble tasting sweetness in foods, and people with type 1 diabetes or neuropathy are more likely to have an impaired taste, according to Diabetes Self Management. Treating diabetes may help reduce your risk of acquiring taste disorders.


A cold or sinus infection may also adversely affect your sense of taste or smell. This condition has been especially prevalent in many COVID-19 sufferers. A 2021 article published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology asserts that a change or loss of taste is a prominent symptom of SARS-CoV2 and is common in long COVID-19 (i.e., when symptoms continue a month after infection). Researchers followed more than 400 people with COVID-19 and discovered that recovery of taste stagnated after two months, with little improvement afterward. 

Strep throat can also cause a loss of taste or change in taste, according to Penn Medicine. Common symptoms of strep throat are sore throat and fever. Beaumont points out that other infections can cause a loss of taste — sinus infections, allergies, or a common cold. If you think you have a loss of taste, you might need to see a doctor who could have you follow up with an otolaryngologist.