why do taste buds change when sick

There are nearly 100 rhinoviruses that cause more than half of colds, says Dr Marvin Hsiao, medical virologist at the University of Cape Town s Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences. He remarks that typical signs of a cold include nasal stuffiness, sore throat, sneezing, headache, cough and mild body aches. Now count yourself lucky if you only have a cold and not flu, which is far worse and can make you feel as if you need to have your coffin measurements taken. Severe flu symptoms (like high fever, weakness, fatigue, body aches and headache) often last five to seven days, while the worst of a cold is usually gone in two to four days, comments Dr Hsiao. Read: Still, what sucks with both
(aside from feeling ghastly) is that you can t even enjoy the flavour of that yummy chicken soup you thought would make you feel better. Of course, it s because you ve lost your sense of taste along with your sense of humour. But ever wondered why you can t taste properly with a cold or stuffy nose? First question that needs answering is why a cold causes a stuffy nose in the first place. Dr Hsiao explains that white blood cells in your body produce chemicals to kill virus-infected cells. This causes increased mucous secretions as well as nasal swelling and inflammation. Link between smell and taste More importantly though, is to understand that the flavour of food involves both smell and taste. In fact, 80% of our taste is related to smell, so it s not surprising that most of the flavour of a food comes from your ability to smell it, explains Professor Jeremiah Alt, Assistant Professor of Surgery and Rhinology at University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics. In an online article on the American Rhinologic Society (ARS) website, he explains that the tongue is your taste organ, as it can sense salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (savoury). Our sense of smell (known as olfaction) provides the rest of a food s flavour, which is why it s difficult to appreciate food flavour when you have nasal obstruction from a cold, stuffy nose or rhinosinusitus.


Read: Professor Alt points out that a small area called the olfactory cleft high up in the roof of your nose senses smell. Here, special cells sense different odours found in the air that we breathe and then send signals to the brain via the olfactory nerve. Anything that interrupts taste sensations being transmitted to the brain will cause taste problems. When you have a cold, the swelling causes inflammation and obstruction, which impairs your smell. The flavour of food is produced only after taste is combined with a smell, so if a stuffy nose impairs your sense of smell, it will also decrease your perception of taste. When your nose is stuffy, taste receptors in your taste buds have to do the job of assessing food flavour in different taste molecules all on their own. Truth is, even though you have around 2000 and 5000 taste buds on your tongue, in your mouth and throat (with each containing 50 to 100 taste receptor cells) they still don t come close to what your nose knows! Read: The two smell (olfactory) receptors found high up in your nasal passages have up to six million cells and can sniff out differences of at least one trillion odours, according to neurobiologist and olfaction expert Dr Leslie Vosshall, Head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior at The Rockefeller University in New York. We know that losing your sense of taste when you have a cold can make you feel miserable, but don t worry, it usually doesn t last long. Dr Hsiao gives the reassurance that your normal taste should return when the infection passes. When to worry about taste or smell loss Some people might however, experience a more prolonged or permanent loss of smell after a cold, comments Professor Alt. He says it s believed this permanent loss happens because of direct injury and inflammation of the olfactory nerve cells (neurons), which in turn, result from the rhinoviruses that cause the cold.


Make an appointment to see your GP if: - You experience abnormal taste with other symptoms, see your doctor - There is a sudden or unexplained loss of sense of taste or smell. Read more: Sources: http://www. livescience. com/44240-human-nose-distinguishes-1-trillion-scents. htmlhttp://patient. info/health/smell-and-taste-disorders http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072592/ https://www. nlm. nih. gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003050. htm http://care. american-rhinologic. org/disorders_of_smell_taste? print http://www. sirc. org/publik/smell_human. html In this chilly weather you might not want to get out of your warm blanket let alone go out with friends or even to work. Winter is the season of snuggling up in bed with a and a bowl of warm. It's also the season to wear big overcoats and wrap yourself up in layers of clothing. If you don't wear your winter clothes properly then you might catch the common cold or even fever, and that means not being able to get the right taste for food for days together! For everyone out there thinking that maybe it's just you who loses their ability to taste when sick, we're here to tell you that you are not alone. It's common to feel like you can't taste your food when you're ill. But have you ever wondered why that is? Here's what is actually going on. The sense of smell and taste are related to each other. It is the smell that influences our taste of the food. Hence it is often difficult for us to distinguish between flavors with a stuffy nose. Let us tell you how this works. The sense of smell and taste are related to each other. While chewing, the aroma of our food travels through our nasal area. There the hair cells carry the odor related information to the brain. But when we a have cold, due to the mucus in our nose we are not able to smell the odor and hence our brain is not able to tell us about the flavor of the dishes that we are having.


As a result we feel that our food tastes bland and we do not feel like having anything when we are sick. All this doesn't affect our judgement of the temperature of the food. Our taste buds help us determine whether a dish is hot or cold. So the cold merely blocks our nose and the sense of smell, but along with it our ability to taste food goes for a toss. When the body is feverish, the water content in it decreases. Fever changes the way we taste food. When we have fever, our body temperature rises and a higher temperature affects our oral cavity too. When the body is feverish, the water content in it decreases, which results in. We tend to have a dry mouth on fever, which also alters the taste of the food we eat. You might have often experienced a loss of appetite when you have fever. That can be because of the increased intake of antibiotics, but more often than not, you don't feel like eating much. You avoid food because it tastes bland and flavorless, because of what the cold has done to your taste buds. In order to fix your sense of taste, you should include more liquids in your diet, along with foods that contain. As goes the old and very sage saying, prevention is better than cure. Take special care of your health during winters to protect yourself from the bacteria and viruses that can cause cold. It's very important to wear proper warm clothes and take plenty of foods to prevent the cold. Have a happy and hearty winter! Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same

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