How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask DrOAB Your Own Question
DrOAB
DrOAB, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1032
Experience:  In practice since 2000.
12594838
Type Your Health Question Here...
DrOAB is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Why do taste buds change when sick?

 Human taste buds allow us to perceive only four flavors: bitter, salty, sweet, and sour. Seventy to seventy-five percent of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell--that is, the odor molecules from food that travel to the olfactory (smell related) receptor cells at the top of the nasal cavity give us most of our taste sensation. This is why conditions that affect one's sense of smell also appear to affect one's sense of taste (e.g., a common cold or bacterial sinus infection may produce such thick nasal mucus that, although your tongue can feel the texture and temperature of the food, the food odor molecules may not penetrate the mucus to reach the nasal olfactory receptor cells). Zicam zinc nasal gel use has resulted in actual lawsuits due to the side effect of zinc-induced prolonged or even permanent loss of both smell and taste (see the third paragraph in the second referenced website below about the components of the flavor of food). By the way, anosmia is the loss of the sense of smell, while ageusia is the loss of the sense of taste.

Smell and taste reference: http://www.reachoutmichigan.org/funexperiments/agesubject/lessons/newton/tstesmll.html

Zicam smell and taste loss lawsuit: http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Zicam

 

 

Read full interaction below »

Resolved Question:

Why do my taste buds change when I have a cold, sinus infection, allergy, flu etc.? Example - why does Coke taste bad when I am sick? How does my nose change my taste?

Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  DrOAB replied 8 years ago.

Dear:

Human taste buds allow us to perceive only four flavors: bitter, salty, sweet, and sour. Seventy to seventy-five percent of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell--that is, the odor molecules from food that travel to the olfactory (smell related) receptor cells at the top of the nasal cavity give us most of our taste sensation. This is why conditions that affect one's sense of smell also appear to affect one's sense of taste (e.g., a common cold or bacterial sinus infection may produce such thick nasal mucus that, although your tongue can feel the texture and temperature of the food, the food odor molecules may not penetrate the mucus to reach the nasal olfactory receptor cells). Zicam zinc nasal gel use has resulted in actual lawsuits due to the side effect of zinc-induced prolonged or even permanent loss of both smell and taste (see the third paragraph in the second referenced website below about the components of the flavor of food). By the way, anosmia is the loss of the sense of smell, while ageusia is the loss of the sense of taste.

Smell and taste reference: http://www.reachoutmichigan.org/funexperiments/agesubject/lessons/newton/tstesmll.html

Zicam smell and taste loss lawsuit: http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Zicam

DrOAB, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1032
Experience: In practice since 2000.
DrOAB and 7 other Health Specialists are ready to help you