Have you ever felt a meal doesn’t taste the way it should? Or perhaps you feel your taste buds are insensitive after a series of allergic reactions?
While this might be bothersome, it could be a sign that your allergies have affected your taste buds.
Although losing your sense of taste doesn’t always occur because of allergic reactions however, allergies are worth considering when looking at the causes of your loss of taste.
How Do Allergies Cause Loss Of Taste And Smell?
The sense of smell and taste are significantly connected. When you eat or taste a particular food, the odor molecules travel back to your nose. The taste bud tells precisely how the food tastes, whether sweet, sour, bitter, or salty.
Simultaneously, the sense of smell figures out other specifics, telling which food it is by how it smells; when the taste buds go south, the importance of smell follows. Both organs work together with the olfactory lobe.
With that said, allergic reactions that affect the sense of smell will have an equal effect on the taste buds. Usually, when an allergic reaction occurs, it is generally accompanied by symptoms like congestion, a stuffy nose, sneezing, and inflammation of the sinuses.
The sinuses are small air pockets, usually in some parts of the body for producing mucus. When allergies occur, mainly in severe cases, the sinuses get inflamed.
This can cause the swelling of the nasal passageway, resulting in congestion, a stuffy nose, and ultimately the loss of smell which later on affects the tastebuds, causing the loss of taste.
To put it mildly, allergies cause the sinuses to become inflamed; this inflammation results in congestion of the nasal passageway, which ultimately causes a dysfunction in the sense of smell and taste.
However, these symptoms often only happen in allergic reactions associated with a stuffy nose and congestion.
What Are Allergies?
Your immune system’s primary purpose is to keep you healthy by fighting against foreign agents like parasites, bacteria, and viruses.
An allergic reaction happens when your immune system fights against these foreign substances and also fights against harmless substances, causing a series of symptoms to break out.
This reaction is often triggered by allergens. Allergens are noninfectious substances with which the body reacts. These allergens could be anything from foods to animals, pollens, medications, and many others. Almost everything and anything can cause them.
The reaction starts when someone is exposed to the allergen, whether through oral ingestion, sniffing, or physical contact. When this happens, the body produces a good deal of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, releasing histamine and other chemicals into the blood.
This histamine in the blood incites allergic symptoms like running nose, itching, localized swelling on the skin, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, and several other digestive problems. The severity of these allergic reactions often depends on factors like the number of allergens present in the body.
What Causes Loss Of Taste
Loss of taste is a medical condition that is termed “ageusia.” It is characterized by the loss of taste function in the tongue, particularly the inability to detect sweetness, sourness bitterness, saltiness, and savory.
It is sometimes confused with anosmia, a loss of a sense of smell. This happens because the tongue can only show texture and differentiate between all other taste buds. Most of what is perceived by the sense of taste are usually derived from the smell.
This condition often ranges from a partial loss of taste -hypogeusia to a complete distortion or alteration of taste -dysgeusia. This alteration usually occurs so that sweet foods taste bitter or a particular taste seizes to be present.
Many factors distort the sense of taste; some of these are discussed below.
An average human has about 10,000 different taste buds; according to research, this number reduces as we age, and the remaining ones shrink. As you age, your taste buds get fewer and diminish.
Also, you might have a dry mouth because the mouth produced a minuscule amount of saliva as you age; this could also affect your tastebuds.
An average human experiences a decrease in taste buds from the age of forty, particularly in females; the male gender is luckier as this dysfunction might not occur until the age of sixty. Around this same time, the sense of smell also diminishes, further contributing to the loss of taste.
2. Illness or infection
Infections that occur in the upper respiratory tract can also result in the loss of taste.
Diseases like gastrointestinal reflux can affect the tongue’s taste bud or cause damage due to stomach acid and bile. Any infection like flu, cold, allergies, sneezing that irritates your nose, causing it to become itchy and stuffy, can have a significant effect on your sense of taste.
Besides this, an illness that can affect other organs and systems like the nervous system can cause loss of taste. Diseases sometimes result in nutrient deficiency.
In such conditions, the body does not receive enough nutrients and vitamins for nerve functions. Therefore, nerve distinction may occur, and the nerves that innervate the tongue may be lost.
3. Poor oral hygiene
Poor oral hygiene can cause gum, tooth diseases, and also taste loss. Failure to take good care of your mouth and tooth can affect your taste buds and your ability to taste and enjoy food.
Other issues that can lead to loss of taste include:
- Nasal infection
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Ear, nose, or throat surgeries
- Radiation treatment e.t.c.
How To Get Your Taste Back During Allergies
Getting your taste back during allergies might require that you treat your allergies first to reduce congestion and other related symptoms affecting your nasal functions.
Your allergies can be treated in several ways, depending on the severity and nature of your allergic reactions. They can be treated with over-the-counter and prescription medications like antihistamines, steroids, nasal sprays, allergy shots (immunotherapy), and allergy drops.
OTC and prescription medications
OTC are over-the-counter medications for allergies that can be gotten from pharmacies. These drugs are used to treat allergies and ease allergic symptoms in patients.
They are best used for mild symptoms of allergic reactions. Some of the most common ones include antihistamines, decongestants, mast cell modifiers, leukotriene modifiers, and many others.
These medications are straightforward over-the-counter medications that can cure your allergic symptoms. However, some of them have side effects that might not be beneficial to your health. Ensure that you know enough about these drugs before using them.
Allergy shots (immunotherapy)
This is another common and effective method of treating your allergies. It is a medical procedure that involves taking the substance an individual is allergic to and giving it to them in minute doses, gradually over some time.
During this process, their body gets used to these substances because of constant exposure, decreasing the patient’s symptoms. A significant reduction in the allergic reaction is observed after the patient gets exposed to the sense they are allergic to.
This procedure has been proven to be highly effective. However, it cannot be used for patients with severe allergic reactions where even the slightest dose of allergens triggers their allergies.
Also, the procedure is expensive hence; it is not accessible to many people. If you cannot afford such, there are other easy and less pricey means of testing your allergies, some of which have been mentioned above in this article.
After you might have treated your allergies, further possible intervention to get your taste back might be to:
- Drink a lot of water: Tastes may return if you take a lot of water and stay hydrated. Drinking water frequently is a way of returning moisture into your mouth. Having enough water in your mouth is an effective way to recover from the loss of taste.
- Quit smoking: Toxic chemicals present in tobacco causes loss of taste. Avoid smoking as much as you can if you want to get your taste.
- proper oral hygiene: You can improve your oral hygiene by regularly brushing your teeth, using a medicated mouthwash, and flossing your teeth regularly.
It is essential to know the foods and substances inciting these allergic reactions in you and completely stop eating such foods. Avoid being in contact with these substances to prevent further allergic reactions.