Disorders of taste and smell can cause an aversion to food in a sick patient and therefore affect his/her ability to maintain optimal nutrition. This can lead to a reduced level of strength, muscle mass, function, and quality of life. Additionally, reduced ability to differentiate between various intensities or concentrations of a tastant can result in increased intake of salt and sugar and exacerbation of chronic diseases such as heart failure and diabetes. These implications can be heightened in the elderly, who are particularly frail and are challenged by polypharmacy and multiple comorbid conditions. In this article, we will review the prevalence, etiology, and management of taste disorders. Additionally, we will review the association between taste and smell disorders and how disorders of smell can affect perception of taste.
Keywords: Dysgeusia; Hospitalized elderly; Long-term care; Oral care; Polypharmacy; Weight loss.
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