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Dysgeusia is the distortion of the sense of taste. An alteration in taste or smell may be a secondary process in various disease states, or it may be the primary symptom. The distortion in the sense of taste is the only symptom, and diagnosis is usually complicated since the sense of taste is tied together with other sensory systems. Common causes of dysgeusia include chemotheraphy and zinc deficiency. Different drugs could also be responsible for altering taste and resulting in dysgeusia. Due to the variety of causes of dysgeusia, there are many possible treatments that are effective in alleviating or terminating the symptoms of dysgeusia. These include artificial saliva, pilocarpine, zinc supplementation, alterations in drug therapy, and alpha lipoic acid.

The alterations in the sense of taste, usually a metallic taste, and sometimes smell are the only symptoms. The duration of the symptoms of dysgeusia depends on the cause. If the alteration in the sense of taste is due to gum disease, dental plaque, a temporary medication, or a short-term condition such as a cold, the dysgeusia should disappear once the cause is removed. In some cases, if lesions are present in the taste pathway and nerves have been damaged, the dysgeusia may be permanent.

Diagnosis of dysgeusia begins with the patient being questioned about salivation, swallowing, chewing, oral pain, previous ear infections (possibly indicated by hearing or balance problems), oral hygiene, and stomach problems. The initial history assessment also considers the possibility of accompanying diseases such as diabetes mellitus or cancer. A clinical examination is conducted and includes an inspection of the tongue and the oral cavity.


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