This chapter discusses taste disturbance which occurs as a result of a reduction in the taste sensation (hypogeusia), an absence of taste sensation (ageusia), or a distortion of normal taste sensation (dysgeusia). In patients with advanced cancer, taste disturbance is relatively common as a result of damage of the taste buds and salivary glands due to intense and invasive treatments. Among the treatments believed to result in taste disturbance are radiotherapy, chemotherapy, drug therapy, and zinc deficiency. Taste disturbance has an adverse effect on the physical, psychological and social make-up of a patient. Severe taste bud impairment can lead to anorexia, weight loss, salivary gland dysfunction, and gastrointestinal dysfunction. Determining the taste disturbance problem of a patient includes noting the medical history of the patient as well as performing taste acuity tests. Management and treatment of taste disturbance comprises treating the underlying cause, dietary therapy, and zinc therapy.
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