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Start > Doctors > Resource centre > Articles > Taste Part 2

Complete or partial loss of taste usually stems from degeneration of the taste buds due to the aging process. But the most common cause is a dry mouth, which can be caused by many factors, including some drugs. Smoking also dries the mouth. The nicotine paralyses the hairs in the cells and adds a taste of its own, so smokers cannot appreciate to the full the delicacy of the food they are eating.

Another common cause of taste loss is blocking by other strong food chemicals. For instance, spices and garlic overpower the taste buds and produce a distorted sensation of flavours. Damage to taste buds also arises from inflammation, stomatitis, or nasty conditions such as cancer of the mouth, or where radiotherapy has been given.

The special nerves conveying the taste messages can be damaged in a head injury, tumour of the brain or after surgery on the head and neck. Some psychiatric illnesses cause disturbances of taste, probably because of hallucinations rather than true taste loss. So, when you realise you've had a really tasty meal, you've got a lot to be thankful for!

Teacher: Michael
Many articles taken from 'A word with the doctor', by Dr. John Windsor.


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