This site is intended for healthcare professionals
Login | Register (NOW FREE)

Medical search

taste disturbance

FREE subscriptions for doctors and students... click here
You have 3 open access pages.

Causes of a taste disturbance to consider include:

  • upper respiratory tract infection - the taste of food is dependent on the smell
  • anosmia
  • glossopharyngeal nerve palsy - loss of taste on the posterior third of the tongue
  • facial nerve palsy
  • chronic adrenal insufficiency - increased sensitivity to the taste of salt, sucrose, urea and other substances

A much more detailed list of causes (1,2,3):

Common causes include:

  • nasal and sinus disease (e.g., allergic or vasomotor rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, adenoid hypertrophy)
  • upper respiratory infection
  • head trauma (e.g., frontal skull fracture, occipital injury, nasal fracture)
  • cigarette smoking
  • neurodegenerative disease (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis)
  • increasing age

Less common causes include

  • drug induced - see linked item
  • cocaine abuse (intranasal)
  • toxic chemical exposure (e.g., benzene, benzol, butyl acetate, carbon disulfide, chlorine, ethyl acetate, formaldehyde, hydrogen selenide, paint solvents, sulfuric acid, thrichloroethylene)
  • industrial agent exposure (e.g., ashes, cadmium, chalk, chromium, iron carboxyl, lead, nickel, silicone dioxide)
  • nutritional factors (e.g., vitamin deficiency [A, B6, B12], trace metal deficiency [zinc, copper], malnutrition, chronic renal failure, liver disease [including cirrhosis], cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)
  • glossopharyngeal nerve palsy - loss of taste on the posterior third of the tongue
  • facial nerve palsy
  • radiation treatment of head and neck
  • congenital conditions (e.g., congenital anosmia, Kallmann's syndrome)

Uncommon causes include:

  • neoplasm or brain tumor (e.g., osteoma, olfactory groove or cribiform plate meningioma, frontal lobe tumor, temporal lobe tumor, pituitary tumor, aneurysm, esthesioneuroblastoma, melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma)
  • psychiatric conditions (e.g.schizophrenia, depression, olfactory reference syndrome)
  • endocrine disorders (e.g., adrenocortical insufficiency, Cushing's syndrome, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, primary amenorrhea, pseudohypoparathyroidism, Kallmann's syndrome, Turner's syndrome)
  • pregnancy
  • epilepsy (olfactory aura)
  • migraine headache (olfactory aura)
  • cerebrovascular accident
  • Sjögren's syndrome
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus


  • Bromley SM. Smell and Taste Disorders: A Primary Care Approach.Am Fam Physician. 2000 Jan 15;61(2):427-436.
  • Prescriber 1999; 10 (12): 94.
  • Pulse 2004; 63 (47): 80.


The information provided herein should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Copyright 2016 Oxbridge Solutions Ltd®. Any distribution or duplication of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. Oxbridge Solutions Ltd® receives funding from advertising but maintains editorial independence. GPnotebook stores small data files on your computer called cookies so that we can recognise you and provide you with the best service. If you do not want to receive cookies please do not use GPnotebook.