Taste sensation, also called as gustation in medical terminology is an important feature that determines your food selection and it is directly influence your nutrition intake. We Humans are gifted with the ability to sense a variety of tastes such as sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. More than 2/3rd of our Indian population is affected by diabetes (increased blood sugar levels). Many are not aware that taste differences can be a feature of diabetes mellitus. There is a link between diabetes and taste disturbances. Human research studies have proved that individuals with diabetes to be more frequently affected by taste impairments.
Do you know that taste disturbances can actually have a direct impact on your blood sugar levels?
Yes, in poorly controlled diabetics there will be alteration of the taste cells of the tongue that can result in reduced sensation of sweet taste when you have sweet food. So, you may end up having more sweet food to feel the sweetness, which in turn may increase your blood sugar levels.
Do all diabetics get taste disorders?
Diabetic patients are more prone for oral diseases and taste disturbances as well, so there are high chances especially among uncontrolled diabetics. Make it a regular habit to visit your oral health care provider at regular intervals, to keep a check and prevent diabetic related oral complications. Always remember “Prevention is Better than Cure”
What are the taste sensations that are usually affected?
There can be reduced perception of the taste which is medically termed as “Hypogeusia” and difficulty in sensing the exact taste which is called as “Dysgeusia”. The second one is the most common taste disturbance reported in diabetics. Sensation of sweet taste is the most commonly affected, but other tastes such as sour, salt and bitter can also be affected.
Should I really care about my taste disturbance?
Yes. Researchers have found Hypogeusia to be an early sign indicating the development of diabetic neuropathy, which is a late complication of diabetics.
I am diabetic and I am experiencing taste disturbances, what should I do now?
Diabetic patients may also have other tongue diseases such as candidiasis and atrophic glossitis that could act as a contributing factor for the development of taste disorders. If you experience taste disturbances, do not worry. Visit an oral health care expert and get your investigations done. Proper clinical evaluation of the diabetic status along with a through examination of the mouth can help in identifying taste disorders. For the precise determination of the taste disturbances, there are simple tests that your doctor may perform for the exact diagnosis of the condition. If you have an established taste deficiency or disturbance, your doctor may prescribe you with zinc supplements that may help in improving the condition. There are also other advanced technological options such as Low level laser therapy, which is a simple and effective treatment option for improvement of the condition. Apart from this if any local fungal infection of the tongue was detected, you may also receive an anti-fungal gel to apply over the tongue.
Take home message:
The chances of developing taste disturbances is high among diabetics. Even after developing taste disorders, it is easily overlooked and ignored by the patients. Early identification of the condition and appropriate medical management of these disorders may be actually help the patients in achieving a better control of their sugar levels and improve their quality of life.