Cacogeusia: characteristics and causes of this taste alteration

Sometimes, for various reasons, our senses don’t work as they should and the sense of taste is no exception.

This time we will find out what cacogeusia is, An alteration of this sense which presents a particular symptomatology. We will also see how it can arise and how it disappears.

    What is cacogeusia

    The cacogeusia is a dysfunction of the sense of taste whereby all flavors are perceived as unpleasant while the effect of this alteration lasts. People with this disorder describe the perceived flavors as bitter or metallic. Logically, to speak of cacogeusia, the patient must perceive this bad taste in front of all the stimuli and not only in front of those which have an unpleasant taste in themselves.

    In the case of cacogeusia, the perception of an unpleasant taste is a subjective matter of the person, it has nothing to do with the food you eat or oral hygiene. In other words, the problem would be in the processing of the data received, because internally it would be perceived as very disgusting flavors when in fact it would not or should not be.

    As for the duration of this alteration, it depends on the causes and on the individual, but according to the different cases analyzed, it is considered that the effects of cacogeusia could last in time of only 1 hour, up to cases of even 14 days, disappearing spontaneously in most cases.

    Possible causes

    Cacogeusia is not the only alteration in the sense of taste that we can suffer from. There are others, such as dysgeusia, which involves perceiving a taste different from the one the stimulus should provide, without necessarily being unpleasant.

    We would also find hypogeosis, which refers to the decrease in the ability to perceive flavors, or ageis, which would be the complete loss of this ability, so that in this case the person would have no sense of taste.

    For cacogeusia and the rest of these taste dysfunctions, there can be a number of very diverse causes.. Let’s take a look at some of the most common.

    1. Food intake

    One of the ways in which cacogeusia can be generated would be by certain foods that would particularly affect the patient because of the characteristics of their body. For example, people with neoplasia may be more likely to experience a change in the sense of taste through salty or bitter foods.

    Other studies suggest that older people may also see their flavor perception altered by consuming very hot foods that contain fat, or even because they have been stored in airtight containers.

    2. Consumption of toxic products

    Other substances that could alter our ability to detect flavors would be different toxic elements, such as alcohol, tobacco, and chemical drugs. All of these substances could affect the way our brains analyze information from the taste buds, leading to biased interpretations of the flavors captured.

    3. Neurological damage

    Cacogeusia can also be acquired by a neurological injury, which could have a very diverse origin, from a brain tumor, an infection that affects the tissues of the nervous system, or a stroke, such as a stroke. , to a degenerative disease that is destroying neural networks involved in the detection or treatment of taste sensations.

      4. Hormonal changes

      Homonas have very powerful effects on our bodyAnd certain processes like pregnancy or certain diseases like hypothyroidism or diabetes, can trigger endocrinological instability which affects many aspects of our metabolism, some of which could affect taste and therefore cause dysfunction like cacogeusis.

      5. Infections

      Another way in which an individual’s body can suffer from an alteration that disrupts the way they analyze the taste of food could be through a bacterial infection, for example, that caused by Helicobacter pylori.

      This infection could affect any of the points involved in the sense of taste, from receiving the data to analyzing it, making the perception different from what it would be under normal conditions.

      6. Psychological disorders

      cacogeusia it does not necessarily have to be caused by a physical factor, but can also come from a psychological illness. This is the case with disorders as common as anxiety or depression, which could lead, in some cases, to alterations in taste taking.

      7. Oral conditions

      Of course, since the mouth is the entryway for food and where the tongue is with its taste buds, the taste receptors, it makes sense to suggest that a condition in this area could also generate problems with savoring well. swallowed items.

      These causes can be very diverse, burn or trauma to the mouth and / or tongue, wearing dentures, inflammatory processes caused by infection, Such as glossitis or certain medical treatments involving radiotherapy or nuclear medicine.

      Some autoimmune diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, which stops secreting saliva (among other symptoms), can also cause cacogeusia or other brain disorder to develop.

      8. Nutritional deficits

      It is also possible to get taste disturbances due to deficiencies in certain nutrients or diseases that cause this effect. For example, diseases that affect the liver or kidneys can make it difficult to detect flavors.

      Similarly, the lack of zinc or certain vitamins, essential for the proper functioning of the body, could also correspond to one of these taste deficiencies, such as cacogeusia.

      9. Drug use

      And finally, in the list of possible causes of the generation of abnormalities in the sense of taste, we would find the use of certain pharmacological compounds, of very diverse nature. In this way, could affect, for example, antidepressant drugs, as well as muscle relaxants, those with a diuretic effect or calcium channel blockers..

      Also included in this list are drugs whose effect is to inhibit the enzyme that converts angiotensin, anti-alcoholic drugs, such as disulfiram, antidiabetics such as metformin, compounds for treating allergies, such as loratadine, or those designed to eliminate parasites, such as metronidazole.

      Pine mouth syndrome

      In the casuistry of cacogeusia, the most common case is that of the so-called pine mouth syndrome.. In this case, the alteration of the sense of taste would be caused by a very specific food: pine nuts. Hence the nomenclature that this pathology takes. Some subjects developed it by ingesting dishes that include pine nuts among their ingredients, such as pesto sauce.

      People with pine mouth syndrome report that after eating pine nuts, usually the next day or two after ingestion, they begin to experience constant bitterness in the mouth and a metallic taste. · Lic. When ingesting other foods, this sensation is accentuated, resulting in the dissatisfaction of the person who suffers from it.

      for that it is not uncommon for one of the associated effects to decrease the feeling of hunger, Since any food automatically becomes repellent when associated with a bad taste sensation, regardless of the quality of the food, objectively.

      Pine mouth syndrome is a cacogeusia of uncertain origin. That is, it is known to be caused by consuming pine nuts in certain people and circumstances, but it does not behave like any other type of food allergy because its effects are different and very specific, affecting only the perception of taste.

      The good thing is that the effects subside spontaneously., Which can last from a few days to a maximum of two weeks depending on the documented cases. Pine mouth syndrome can develop from the age of three, and may go away at any time in life and not come back.


      After a general tour of the characteristics of cacogeusia and the wide variety of possible causes for which you can suffer from this disease, we got to know a specific case of this disease, the so-called mouth syndrome. Pine, its characteristics are even more special, if only. What is clear is that this is a disorder on which there is still a lot to study to know in depth.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Munk, MD (2010). “Pine mouth” syndrome: cacogeusia after ingestion of pine nuts (genus: Pinus). An emerging problem? Journal of Medical Toxicology. Springer.
      • Hampton, RL, Scully, C., Gandhi, S., Raber-Durlacher, J. (2013). Cacogeusia after ingestion of pine nuts: a case series of six patients. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Elsevier.
      • Hart, HH (1938). Bad taste (cacogeusia). Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry.

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