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.
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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Hypogeusia symptoms vary from person to person. You might experience:
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.
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:
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.
To treat hypogeusia, a healthcare provider needs to address any underlying conditions. Hypogeusia treatments may include:
In some cases, hypogeusia goes away on its own.
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:
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:
You can try things at home to improve your sense of taste:
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.
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.
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.
If you have a diminished sense of taste, here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider:
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.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/30/2023.
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