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Sense of taste is interrupted in those with MS




























Image Source: CLIPARTPANDA

A University of Pennsylvania research team has found a high incidence of an underappreciated problem in patients with multiple sclerosis: poor ability to identify tastes.

Richard Doty, director of Penn's Smell and Taste Center, who led the study, said previous work found that people with the autoimmune disease had trouble with smell. Sense of smell can affect the ability to taste and enjoy food. However, the new study independently assessed the ability to identify bitter, sour, sweet and salty tastes. The amount of dysfunction was associated with the amount of damage seen in MRIs of patients' brains.

Doty said it is important to consider that patients may not be tasting food properly because "a certain number of individuals with MS have nutritional problems." Patients may not be eating because food does not taste good to them. Heightening flavors may make food more appealing, he said.

Multiple sclerosis affects about 450,000 people in the United States. It causes the immune system to attack nerve fibers and myelin, a fatty substance that surrounds them. Symptoms include vision problems, numbness, tingling, and difficulty walking.

Previous studies have estimated that 5 percent to 20 percent of MS patients have problems with their sense of taste.

The new study, published last month in the Journal of Neurology, compared 73 MS patients with 73 healthy people. The MS patients were considered to have a taste problem when their performance was below the fifth percentile of the control group. Of the MS patients, 15 percent had trouble with a bitter flavor, 22 percent with sour, 25 percent with sweet, and 31.5 percent with salty.


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