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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Everything tastes sweet.

06/05/2000

Question:

My dad is complaining that everthing tastes terribly sweet. He has congestive heart failure and is taking Coumadin, Lanoxin, Diovan, Pacerone,and Aldacterone. He is not taking an ACE inhibitor now. Could any of those medications be causing the problem? Could you suggest anything else we should try? His cardiologist has suggested he see an ear, nose, and throat doctor. Thank you.

Answer:

Your dad is complaining of dysgeusia, an abnormal taste that can be very difficult to evaluate. It can occur from an actual abnormal stimulant, such as a periodontal infection, or it can occur from abnormalities peripherally of the taste receptors, or centrally of the nerves involved in taste transduction. It has been attributed to a wide variety of medications and diseases, but unfortunately there is no specific pattern that is diagnostic.

I am not familiar with a persistent sweet taste in relation to the medications that you mentioned. An initial query to Pharmacy and Medications revealed that a very small percentage of patients taking Valsartan (Diovan) and Amiodarone (Pacerone) have complained of dysgeusia, although not necessarily a sweet taste.

A persistent sweet taste has been described in association with some metabolic conditions, such as hyponatremia or a low sodium level. I would recommend that your father undergo a full physical examination, including routine lab studies. If this all proves negative, then it may be worth considering a full taste evaluation. This is a fairly complicated process, and one that is best performed at a formal taste and smell clinic. There is one here at the Univ. of Cincinnati, the only one in Ohio. However, there are several others around the country.

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Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati