Changing tastes not all in your head

April 30, 2012

Do you notice your sense of taste changing? You’re not alone.

Dr. Charles W. Wakefield

About half of adults over age 70 notice a loss of taste sensation, which can affect their appetite and even lead to malnutrition. But the problem can strike at any age.

Dr. Charles W. Wakefield, professor and director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency Program at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry, says taste buds can become more or less sensitive during your life based on various factors:

  • Aging;
  • Anemia;
  • Infection;
  • Smoking;
  • Certain prescription medications;
  • Alcoholism;
  • Hormonal changes due to pregnancy or menopause;
  • Underlying systemic disorders of many types;
  • Cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation;
  • Brain damage from head injuries; and
  • Dry mouth, which can be caused by disease or medication.


A decrease in the sense of smell can impact the sense of taste as well because those two important senses work together.

“The good news is taste buds can rebound most of the time, so don’t panic,” Dr. Wakefield says. “Contact your dentist or physician if you notice that things don’t taste the way you remember.”

— LaDawn Brock