Sense of taste, complete loss

Description Percentage

Sense of taste, complete loss 

Ageusia is a rare condition that is characterized by a complete loss of taste function of the tongue. It requires differentiation from other taste disorders such as hypogeusia (decreased sensitivity to all tastants), hypogeusia (enhanced gustatory sensitivity), dysgeusia (unpleasant perception of a tastant), and phantogeusia (perception of taste that occurs in the absence of a tastant). Although ageusia is not a life-threatening condition, it can cause discomfort. It can lead to loss of appetite, reduction in weight, and in some cases, may require discontinuation of drugs in already compromised patients; this can result in medical problems and can have a severe psychological impact on the patient.


Several things can trigger a loss of taste. They include:

  • Damage to your taste sensation nerve
  • Not getting enough of certain nutrients
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Tongue injury (inflammation, burns, surgery, cuts, or anesthesia)
  • Infection
  • Dental work complications
  • Cranial nerve lesions
  • Iatrogenic lesions, nerve damage caused by medical treatment
  • Neuralgia, severe shooting pain from nerve irritation or damage
  • Polyneuropathies, when several nerves don’t work the right way

For example, people with cancer in their head or neck might get radiation that causes ageusia. That’s because radiation therapy can injure your taste buds and transmit nerves. It can also affect the flow of saliva if it damages your salivary glands.

Certain drugs may also lead to ageusia. They include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antineoplastic agents (chemotherapy drugs)
  • Neurologic medications
  • Cardiovascular drugs
  • Antipsychotics
  • Tranquilizers
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Thyroid medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Bronchodilators
  • Antifungals
  • Antivirals
  • Aging and things related to it might also affect your ability to taste, but they usually don’t lead to a complete loss of taste.


People with ageusia cannot distinguish any taste in the foods they eat. Additionally, they may experience a number of other symptoms. These may include:

  • A decreased desire to eat.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Allergies.
  • Oral health problems.


First, your health care provider will ask questions about the taste changes and medical history and complete a physical exam. They may do a few tests like:

  • Taste tests to compare different tastes and the lowest strength you’re able to sense
  • Sniff tests (tests the sense of smell)
  • Imaging (to assess the nerve health)

The health care provider will rule out possible causes of taste loss like medications or loss of smell.


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