When you lose your Taste can you Taste Spicy Food - Food Vib

When you lose your Taste can you Taste Spicy Food

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Losing your sense of taste can greatly impact one’s ability to enjoy food. It can be frustrating and disheartening to not be able to experience the flavors of your favorite dishes. However, many wonder if losing your taste also means losing the ability to taste spicy food. Can you still feel the heat and intensity of spices even without your sense of taste? This question has sparked curiosity and interest in those who love spicy food.

In order to find out, it is important to understand the causes of losing your taste and how to regain it. Only then can we truly determine if we can still taste the spiciness in our food. Don’t miss out on this fascinating topic and discover more about the relationship between losing your taste and tasting spicy food.

When you lose your Taste can you Taste Spicy Food
When you lose your Taste can you Taste Spicy Food

Can you Taste Spicy Foods Without Taste?

Even without the sense of taste, you may still be able to identify the “spiciness” or “heat” of certain foods. This is because spice is not actually a taste perceived by your taste buds. Rather, it is noticed by nerves in your mouth that feel pain and warmth.
When you eat a spicy food like chili peppers, capsaicin and related substances trigger the trigeminal nerves in your mouth and throat. The trigeminal nerves react by sending pain messages and a burning feeling to your brain. So even someone who has lost their sense of taste from illness or injury can still feel the burning “spiciness” of chili peppers through this different nerve route. The heat causes an automatic reaction : like sweating or a runny nose.

The real taste of the food : sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami : is reduced or lost. But the trigeminal nerves will still sense the capsaicin and transfer the feeling of spicy heat. So in that sense, you can “taste” spicy things without actually eating them. However, the general eating experience and flavor pleasure is lessened without the regular sense of taste.

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What causes loss of taste?

Loss of taste, also known as taste disease or dysgeusia, can occur for a number of reasons:

  • Common viral diseases like cold, flu, and COVID-19 can briefly cause taste buds to stop working properly. Congestion from these illnesses stops smell, which dulls your sense of taste.
  • Other medical diseases affecting the nerves or saliva production can also lead to ongoing taste problems. These include diabetes, hypertension, Sjögren’s syndrome, Bell’s palsy, hypothyroidism, and vitamin B12 or zinc insufficiency.
  • Certain medicines have taste disruption as a possible side effect. These include some antibiotics, blood pressure medicines, heart and thyroid drugs, over-the-counter pain treatments, and even birth control pills. The good news is that for many drugs, taste returns to normal after stopping the drug.

In some cases, the specific reason stays unknown. An ear, nose and throat expert can help identify taste disorders through examination, review of symptoms and medical history, saliva tests, and sensitivity testing. Once the root reason is found, individualized treatment can help return normal taste sense.

How long does Loss of Taste last?

The Common Cold or flu:

Loss of taste from a cold or flu is generally brief, lasting around 1:2 weeks as the infection clears.


Allergies can cause brief loss of taste lasting from several days to a couple weeks during allergy season. Taste should return once allergy symptoms lessen.

Sinus Infection:

Loss of taste from sinuses may last 1:4 weeks, improving as the illness is treated.

Head Injury:

Depending on intensity, taste loss from head injuries can last a few weeks up to a few months as nerves recover.

Upper Respiratory Infection:

When caused by a URI, loss of taste may last 3 weeks or longer as swelling improves.


Studies show taste loss due to COVID lasts around 22 days on average, though it may continue longer in some cases.

Zinc Deficiency:

Restoring normal zinc levels can help improve taste within weeks.

Bell’s Palsy:

Taste loss from Bell’s palsy often improves within a few weeks alongside facial stiffness as inflammation decreases.

Radiation Therapy:

Taste damage from radiation may begin to improve around 4 weeks post: treatment, though full healing can take 6 months or more.

while varied, loss of taste is often brief, lasting a number of weeks based on the underlying medical problem. See a doctor if it continues longer without reason.

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Improving Sense of Taste

Even though loss of taste can feel hopeless, there are some things you can try to help improve your sense of taste. Focus on keeping good mouth health, staying hydrated, and stopping smoking if appropriate. Some other methods include

Smell Training

Since taste is so linked to smell, acting in “smell training” where you intentionally smell different scents and flavors every day can help awaken your smell receptors. Get four different essential oils like lemon, rose, clove, and eucalyptus. Twice a day, spend up to 20 seconds smelling each scent and really focused on naming it before moving to the next one.

Zinc Supplements

Some studies show that zinc tablets may help improve sense of taste in those lacking in zinc. The recommended daily dose is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Taking too much zinc can be dangerous, so be sure to follow dose instructions carefully and check with your doctor before taking vitamins.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking lots of water keeps your taste buds moist and can improve your general sense of taste. Aim for the recommended daily amount of around 2 liters for women and 3 liters for guys. Drink water, green tea, broths, and other hydrating drinks throughout the day.

Maintaining a healthy diet, performing mouth cleanliness, drinking, and exercising your senses with smell training can all possibly help improve your sense of taste. See your doctor if taste loss continues despite these attempts.

When to see a Doctor

Loss of taste is usually brief, but if it continues longer than expected, it could be the sign of an underlying condition that requires medical care. Here are some tips for when to make a meeting with your doctor:

  • If loss of taste lasts longer than 2 weeks and does not seem to be better, it’s a good idea to get checked by a doctor. Most brief taste loss from colds or viruses passes within 2 weeks as the body heals. Any loss lasting longer could indicate a problem that needs evaluation and care.
  • If the loss of taste is serious or total, see a doctor right away. Complete loss of taste that comes quickly is rare and requires fast medical evaluation to determine the cause.
  • Seek care if you experience weight loss or hunger changes as a result of not tasting food. Loss of taste can make food unpleasant. Left ignored, these changes in eating habits can lead to food gaps and unintended weight loss. A doctor can help fix any errors and ensure you are getting proper nutrients.
  • If you have other symptoms that follow the loss of taste, such as pain in the mouth or tongue, it’s smart to plan an exam. Additional signs could point to specific diseases that need care.
  • Get checked if you have a history of head damage or recent sickness involving a high fever. These can sometimes cause lasting taste problems if there is nerve damage. A doctor can check for any brain reasons.
  • Those having cancer treatment or taking certain medicines may be at higher risk for long-term taste problems. Talk to your doctor if you lose your sense of taste while on these treatments. Adjustments to drugs or diet plans may help.

Seeing a doctor quickly when loss of taste continues or worsens can help identify and address any underlying health problems, and help return your ability to taste foods again. Don’t wait making an appointment if changes to your sense of taste worry you.

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When Taste may not Return

For most people, lack of taste is temporary. However, in some cases, it can be long-lasting or permanent.

  • According to research, around 5% of people who lose their sense of taste after an illness do not recover it within a year. The number may be higher for people over 60 years old.
  • In very rare cases, people are born without a sense of taste, a disease called congenital ageusia.
  • Other reasons of lasting or long-term loss of taste include radiation therapy to the head and neck, certain medicines, ongoing sinus infections, and head injuries.

If you lose your ability to taste for a long time or forever, there are some things you can do to deal.

  • Focus on foods with strong aromas and tastes you enjoy smells can still drive your hunger and sensory system even when Flavors are reduced.
  • Avoid oversalting and over spicing things to substitute for lack of taste. This can badly impact health over time.
  • Try different temperatures of foods and drinks. Many people have a heightened physical sense, so cool, room temp, and hot foods may offer different feelings.
  • Consider naturally sweetened or flavoured things like fruit, flavoured drinks, spices, etc. to make food seem more appealing.
  • Make mealtimes about more than just food create a nice atmosphere and share the experience with others.
  • Try new recipes and discover different flavors to keep eating interesting. The range can help avoid boredom.
  • Pay attention to food textures you enjoy and add them more into meals.

Though lasting loss of taste can be difficult, focusing on the enjoyment of flavor, texture, and shared meal experiences can help keep eating happiness. Consult a doctor if loss of taste worsens or fails to improve over time.

Yes, the burning feeling of heat is caused by activity of pain receptors on the tongue rather than taste receptors. Compounds like capsaicin connect to specific pain receptors called TRPV1 receptors, which cause a burning feeling without needing input from taste buds.

In most cases, loss of taste due to illness or damage is brief. Common reasons like upper lung infections, sinus infections, or head accidents usually lead to brief taste loss that returns fully as you heal. However, sometimes taste loss can stay after the illness passes or be permanent due to damage to taste nerves.

Common reasons of taste loss include upper respiratory infections, colds and sinus infections, radiation therapy to the head and neck, certain medicines, head injuries, teeth issues, aging, and diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. Anything that damages or interferes with your taste nerves or taste buds can reduce taste.

Yes, it is possible to lose only specific taste feelings if only some of your taste bud types are damaged. The five main taste feelings - sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami - each have receptor cells on different parts of the tongue. Damage to a certain spot could affect only one taste.

Loss of taste can greatly impact pleasure of foods and drinks. Foods may start tasting boring or flavorless without the sense feedback from taste buds. However, you can still sense some things like heat, texture, scent, and more. Combining foods with other feelings can help improve flavor when taste is reduced.

Yes, there are ways to improve food quality even with weakened taste function. Options include using stronger spices, adding texture through crunchy ingredients, offering foods at warmer temperatures to increase aroma, adding acidic ingredients like citrus juice, and experiencing stronger-flavored foods like roasted veggies, braised meats, or hot meals. Focusing on all the feelings while eating can help boost pleasure.

Yes, lack of smell can greatly impact your ability to taste and enjoy things. Smell and taste are closely linked, since 80-90% of what we experience as taste is actually due to aroma. With a diminished sense of smell, even foods with sound taste sensations will seem boring and flavorless. Treating reasons of smell loss can help recover taste function.

Treatments for taste loss depend on the reason but may include corticosteroid nasal sprays, medicines, surgery for structural problems, taste training by repeatedly exposing your tongue to flavors, oral zinc supplements, acupuncture, electrical or magnetic stimulation, and more. Consulting a doctor helps decide suitable treatment choices.

The timing for taste returning after illness or damage varies. It can take days to weeks for taste to fully return after a cold or other lung sickness. In some cases, taste may return gradually over weeks or months with taste training. However, in cases of lasting nerve damage, taste loss may be incurable or only partly better. Consulting a doctor can provide a forecast for your unique case.

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