Why Is My Food Tasteless?


Syed picQuratulain Syed, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics
Emory University School of Medicine

Have you recently been struggling with keeping up your nutritional intake? Are you losing weight unintentionally? Does your food seem tasteless? It may not be a fault of yours or the person who does the cooking at home.  You may be one of the many older adults who experience problems with sensation of taste.

Taste disorders can be a result of normal aging and are frequently experienced by older adults living in long term care facilities or admitted to hospitals. Numerous medical conditions can affect taste sensations, such as liver, heart, kidney and thyroid problems, diabetes, upper respiratory infections, among others.

Additionally, numerous medications can affect taste, including cholesterol lowering medicines (commonly called statins), blood pressure medicines, anti-allergic medicines, heartburn medicines, antibiotics, and medicines for cancers.

Cigarette smoking, poor dental hygiene, and dental infections can affect taste as well.

Here are some tips if you think you are experiencing taste impairment:

  • If you have not seen a dentist recently, schedule an appointment to have your teeth and gums examined, to make sure they are healthy.
  • Take all your medications (including prescription, over the counter, and herbal medicines) to your appointment with your provider, so they can be reviewed for any possible side effects.
  • Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss your problem.
  • Discuss your medications with your provider to understand why you are taking them. Ask if any medications can be stopped or reduced in dosage.
  • There are numerous reasons for quitting smoking, regardless of your age. A taste disorder is one of them!

Bon Appetit!