We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Healthline only shows you brands and products that we stand behind.

Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we make on our site. To establish that the product manufacturers addressed safety and efficacy standards, we:
  • Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
  • Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
  • Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?
We do the research so you can find trusted products for your health and wellness.
Was this helpful?

Impaired taste means that your sense of taste is not functioning properly. Causes of impaired taste range from the common cold to more serious medical conditions involving the central nervous system.

Most people only experience impaired taste temporarily and only lose part of their ability to taste. It’s very rare to lose your sense of taste completely.

Read on to learn more about why you might experience impaired taste.

Impaired taste can refer to the absence of taste. It can also refer to an altered sense, such as a metallic taste in the mouth.

In addition to various health conditions, normal aging can also lead to impaired taste. Some studies estimate that about 53% of older adults have impaired taste.

The temporary interruption of smell you experience during a cold or other respiratory illness can impair your sense of taste.

Many common conditions can affect your ability to taste, such as:

Researchers are still studying the reasons why Covid-19 can cause you to lose your sense of taste or smell, and now to treat it. Learn more about Covid-19 loss of taste and smell.

Certain nutritional deficiencies can cause impaired taste.

In particular, a deficiency in zinc and vitamin B12 can both cause changes to the sense of taste and smell.

A deficiency in folate, another important B vitamin, can also cause a reduced sense of taste and other symptoms like muscle weakness, anemia, and depression.

Some medications can cause changes in the way that food tastes or reduce your sense of taste by interacting with your taste buds.

Certain types of medications might also have properties that can cause a bitter or metallic taste, while others might cause dry mouth, which can alter the taste of food.

Medications that may lead to changes in taste include:

In addition to increasing the risk of chronic conditions and respiratory issues, smoking can also cause changes in taste.

According to the National Institute on Aging, quitting smoking can help the nerve cells begin to regenerate, which can improve your sense of smell and taste.

Gum inflammation, such as gingivitis or periodontal disease, can cause bad breath and leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth, which may alter the way that food tastes.

Issues with dentures can also cause impaired taste. In fact, one study found that people with upper complete dentures had greater difficulty with perceiving different flavors, including bitterness.

Disorders of the nervous system can cause an altered sense of taste. Nervous system disorders affect how your nerves send messages to the rest of your body. The organs that control taste may also be affected by nervous system impairment.

Other conditions that can cause impaired taste include:

The senses of taste and smell are closely linked. The flavors in food can be tasted because of a combination of your ability to smell and taste.

Sometimes, your taste buds may function just fine, but your sense of smell is the problem.

A doctor might send you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist, called an otolaryngologist, to determine if you have a smell disorder.

Smell disorders are more common in older adults and males. In fact, it’s estimated that about 25% of males and 11% of females ages 60-69 have a smell disorder.

Treating the underlying condition that causes your impaired sense of taste can help restore your taste. Bacterial sinusitis, salivary gland infections, and throat infections can be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of colds, flu, and allergic rhinitis that impact taste may be relieved with decongestants or antihistamines. Once you are feeling better, your sense of taste will most likely return quickly.

Nutritional deficiencies that cause impaired taste can also be treated with supplements or changes to your diet.

A doctor may prescribe medications to minimize the effects of a nervous system disorder or an autoimmune disease that causes impaired taste.

Most often, lifestyle changes are all you need to improve your sense of taste. If you smoke, quitting smoking can allow you to taste your food fully. After quitting smoking, people usually begin to regain their sense of taste within 1 week.

Proper dental hygiene can also reverse an impaired sense of taste caused by gum disease.

You can eliminate plaque from your mouth, protect your teeth from disease and decay, and help regain your full sense of taste through brushing and flossing.

Here are answers to additional questions about impaired taste.

What does impaired taste mean?

Taste impairment means that there is an issue with your sense of taste. The term may be used to refer to changes in the way food tastes or the absence of taste altogether.

What causes impaired taste?

Impaired taste can be caused by smell disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and some medications. Smoking, gum inflammation, and certain types of infections or other health conditions can also cause impaired taste.

How do you fix taste impairment?

It’s important to treat the underlying condition that is causing impaired taste, which may require certain medications or lifestyle changes. A doctor can help identify the cause of impaired taste and determine the best course of treatment based on your needs.

Many factors can alter your sense of taste, including certain conditions, nutritional deficiencies, and medications.

If you’re experiencing changes in taste, a doctor can help evaluate the cause of your symptoms and the most appropriate treatment.

Taking medications as prescribed or making other recommended lifestyle changes may also help improve your sense of taste.