One of the symptoms that has become known to characterize the presence of Covid-19 in the population in recent years has been the loss of taste, even if partial in some cases. However, it is not only the disease that is capable of causing this change, whose name used by doctors is dysgeusia.
Patients who are diagnosed with this health problem can partially or completely lose the taste of food, thus losing their sense of taste.
Types of dysgeusia
Currently, it is possible to name five types of dysgeusia, each of which is classified according to the affected part of the individual's taste:
- Fantogeusia: causes the patient to constantly feel a bitter taste in the mouth.
- Hypogeusia: alters the ability to taste food and other nuances of flavor, such as sweet and salty.
- Hypergeusia: The patient has a greater sensitivity to food tastes, and may have sensations of "too salty" or "too sweet" foods.
- Parageusia: the patient has a change of taste, often not being able to identify the taste of the food he is chewing.
- Also, ageusia: the patient no longer tastes anything.
Causes and symptoms
Dysgeusia can be caused by several factors, including cancer treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, colds, nasal infections, pharyngitis, sinusitis, decompensated diabetes, salivary gland problems, some types of medication (such as captopril and penicillin), vitamin deficiencies such as zinc and vitamin B12, smoking, and more recently Covid-19.
But as for the symptoms, they include loss of taste, decreased food taste, altered sensitivity of the mouth region, and a change in the perception of food tastes.
Diagnosis and treatment for dysgeusia
To identify a case of dysgeusia, the situation of each patient is usually evaluated through clinical examinations, anamnesis, or more specific tests. Thus, a follow-up with a multidisciplinary team helps to identify the cause of the disease.
Once the health problem is diagnosed, the treatment will depend on the etiology. However, in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy, a change in frequency may be necessary, for example.
For smokers, the indication for treatment would be related to quitting the addiction, with psychological help. Even so, in most cases, the return of taste is gradual. It usually returns after the individual is no longer debilitated by other diseases.
Read also: Taste Memory: How our brain recognizes food
To prevent dysgeusia from becoming frequent, it is important to follow a healthy diet with sources of vitamin C such as orange, lemon, acerola, and other citrus foods, which help fight free radicals.
Finally, it is also important to choose to consume antioxidant foods such as onions, garlic, and flaxseed, and to practice physical activity to contribute to prevention.
Source: Dr. Bianca Gonçales de Oliveira, nutritionist at Clínica CliNutri, graduated in Nutrition from Centro Universitário São Camilo, technical in nutrition and dietetics from Centro Paula Souza and specialist in Oncological Nutrition from Centro Universitário São Camilo.