What is included in the evaluation of taste disorders?

Updated: Jan 08, 2021
  • Author: Eric H Holbrook, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Evaluation of taste disorders is not as well developed as that of olfaction. It involves measurement of detection or recognition thresholds. No comparable approach to odor identification tests is available because only 5 basic taste sensations exist and only 4 of these (sweet, salty, bitter, and sour) are tested.

Salivary adaptation and size of the tongue area stimulated influence the threshold assessment. Thus, these tests are extremely variable. Changes in threshold detection do not necessarily indicate correlation to changes in suprathreshold taste intensity. Testing of the taste thresholds alone does not provide a full picture of the level of gustatory function or dysfunction. For example, a patient after radiation therapy may recover recognition thresholds for the 4 taste qualities, but the magnitude of the perceived tastes still may be quite depressed.

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