Isolated taste disorders in patients referred to a flavor clinic with taste and smell loss

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BACKGROUND AND AIM: Approximately five percent of the general population are suffering from taste disorders. Usually, subjective loss of taste is caused by smell disorders; thus, isolated loss of the sense of taste is relatively rare. Despite the influence on quality of life, isolated taste disorders (ITD) are sparsely represented in literature and clinical research. In particular, there is need for sufficient diagnostic and treatment algorithms. Aim of study is to add further information to the sparse literature on ITD and suggest an appropriate diagnostic algorithm for ITD.

METHODS: We present a retrospective study on patients with ITD diagnosed at the Flavour clinic, ENT department, Regional Hospital West Jutland, between 2017 and 2020. All patients underwent a thorough rhinolaryngological and otoneurologic examination, including olfactory and gustatory assessment, and a wide spectrum of biochemical, microbiological, and radiological examinations.

RESULTS: In total, 522 patients referred due to smell and/or taste disorders, 423 (81%) complained of a subjective taste disorder, only 19 (3.4%) patients were diagnosed with ITD. According to etiology, the patients were categorized in following groups: medicine-related (25%), mixed (21%), iatrogenic (21%), idiopathic (11%), radiotherapy-related (11%), and autoimmune/inflammatory (11%). Based on etiology, individualized treatment was recommended with very discouraging results.

INTERPRETATION: Diagnostics of taste disorders is a delicate and expertise demanding task. The mechanisms underlying isolated loss of taste are heterogeneous. ENT and otoneurologic examination, and specific olfactory and gustatory testing are required in all patients, whereas biochemical, microbiological, and radiological examinations are only necessary on an individual basis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain and Behavior
Pages (from-to)e02071
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

    Research areas

  • electrogustometry, etiology, olfaction, taste disorder

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