Hypogeusia is a type of taste disorder. People with hypogeusia have a weakened or diminished sense of taste. Causes include certain medications, dental issues or underlying health conditions. It’s also a common early symptom of COVID-19.


What is hypogeusia?

Hypogeusia (pronounced hi-po-GYOU-see-uh) is a reduced or diminished sense of taste. People with hypogeusia have difficulty telling the difference between certain tastes or flavors. Or, they may have trouble detecting certain tastes, like sweetness or saltiness.

Hypogeusia can be mild or severe and appear gradually or suddenly. Hypogeusia is different from dysgeusia, which refers to a distorted sense of taste, and ageusia, which refers to total loss of sense of taste.


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Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of hypogeusia?

Hypogeusia symptoms vary from person to person. You might experience:

  • A weakened sense of taste overall.
  • An inability to detect certain tastes.
  • Difficulty distinguishing between tastes (like sweet, sour, salty and bitter).

Hypogeusia and COVID

People with COVID-19 might develop hypogeusia early on, often before other symptoms appear. Because of the close link between taste and smell, many people also develop hyposmia, a decreased sense of smell.

Having hypogeusia or other taste disorders doesn’t necessarily mean you have COVID. But if you develop a sudden diminished sense of taste, tell your healthcare provider.

What causes hypogeusia?

Possible hypogeusia causes include certain health conditions, environmental factors and neurological issues. Sometimes, hypogeusia develops as a secondary symptom of hyposmia (decreased sense of smell).

Health conditions that may cause hypogeusia include:

Environmental factors that may contribute to hypogeusia include:

Neurological issues linked to hypogeusia include:


What are the complications of hypogeusia?

A diminished sense of taste can negatively impact your quality of life. Foods that once tasted delicious to you may not bring you pleasure anymore. This can cause a lack of appetite and may result in malnutrition.

Additionally, your sense of taste can help you detect spoiled foods and drinks. In some cases, it can even help you identify allergens. For example, if you’re allergic to nuts, your sense of taste can tell you to stop eating foods that contain them.

Diagnosis and Tests

How do healthcare providers diagnose hypogeusia?

During a physical examination, an otolaryngologist (ENT) will ask about your symptoms and review your medical history. They may also recommend tests that determine:

  • The level of taste quality you can detect or recognize.
  • Whether you can tell the difference between certain tastes.
  • Whether you can distinguish between sweet, salty, sour, bitter or umami (savory) tastes.
  • If your taste improves when flavor concentration increases.


Management and Treatment

How do healthcare providers treat hypogeusia?

To treat hypogeusia, a healthcare provider needs to address any underlying conditions. Hypogeusia treatments may include:

  • Lifestyle changes.
  • Medications.
  • Surgery (less common).

In some cases, hypogeusia goes away on its own.

Lifestyle changes

Depending on the underlying cause or condition, you may be able to make certain lifestyle changes to improve your sense of taste. These might include:

  • Quitting smoking.
  • Improving your oral hygiene.
  • Wearing proper protective equipment when handling or working around harmful chemicals.
  • Asking your healthcare provider to change any medications that could affect your sense of taste.


Certain illnesses may contribute to hypogeusia, particularly those that also affect your sense of smell. Because of the close link between taste and smell, you might improve both senses by treating underlying conditions like allergies, nasal congestion and sinus infections. In these cases, certain medications may help, including:


You probably won’t need surgery for hypogeusia unless you have a condition that also affects your sense of smell. In some cases, treating your loss of sense of smell can also improve your sense of taste. This is especially true if you have growths or structural abnormalities that block your nasal passages, like nasal polyps or a deviated septum. In these instances, you might benefit from:

  • Surgery to remove nasal polyps.
  • Sinus surgery to treat chronic sinus infections.
  • Septoplasty to correct a deviated septum.

What can I do at home to improve my sense of taste?

You can try things at home to improve your sense of taste:

  • Prepare food using a variety of spices and herbs. (Avoid adding more salt or sugar, though.)
  • Experiment with different food textures.
  • Avoid casseroles and other “combo dishes” that can dilute and hide flavors.


Can I prevent hypogeusia?

You can’t always avoid things that cause hypogeusia. As a result, you can’t always prevent the condition. But there are things you can do to reduce your risk of hypogeusia, like avoiding smoking, eating a well-balanced diet and keeping existing health conditions in check.

Outlook / Prognosis

How long does hypogeusia last?

In most cases, hypogeusia goes away once the underlying condition does. For example, if a cold or sinus infection caused a weakened sense of taste, your taste should come back once you feel better. Hypogeusia due to COVID-19 can linger, sometimes for several weeks or months.

Less commonly, hypogeusia can last for years. In rare cases, your sense of taste may never fully come back. This is most common in people with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

It’s normal for your sense of taste to change when you have a cold or another type of infection. But these changes usually go away once you recover from your illness. If you have hypogeusia that lasts for more than a couple of weeks, or if you develop a sudden loss of taste, let your healthcare provider know.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

If you have a diminished sense of taste, here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider:

  • Why did my sense of taste change?
  • What’s the underlying cause?
  • Do I need diagnostic tests?
  • Do I have another health condition causing this?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Our sense of taste connects us to the human experience. Eating is an important part of many social rituals, like celebrating a birthday or gathering with friends for a holiday. Changes in your sense of taste can negatively impact your quality of life, especially if your symptoms last for a long time. You might feel like you’re missing out. Or, you might not enjoy eating at all anymore. If you think you might have hypogeusia, talk to a healthcare provider. They can look for an underlying cause and recommend treatment that can help.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 06/30/2023.

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