Longer CKD Duration Linked With Taste Dysfunction

New research indicates an association between longer chronic kidney disease duration and taste dysfunction.

The prevalence of taste dysfunction among patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with increased duration of CKD but not CKD severity, according to research published in Ear, Nose & Throat Journal.

“Impairment of taste can be devastating to a patient since it does not only affect the ability to enjoy food products but also alter food choices and patterns of consumption, thereby resulting in weight loss or weight gain, and other forms of malnutrition,” researchers wrote. In addition, studies have shown “defective taste function among patients with CKD was implicated as the cause of malnutrition among them.”

Several previous investigations have also indicated patients with CKD exhibit a high prevalence of taste dysfunction, potentially due to mechanisms such as dry mouth, tongue coating, and other factors. To determine the predictors of taste disorder and its severity among patients with CKD, investigators conducted a hospital-based, case-control study at a university hospital in Nigeria.

All participants were aged 18 or older and had a diagnosis of CKD defined as “estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 with or without albuminuria.” Patients were matched with healthy age- and gender-matched controls.

Participants’ sociodemographic data, duration of ailment, medical history, symptomatology of CKD, and other factors were collected via interviewer-assisted questionnaires. Height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and serum creatinine levels were also assessed. Researchers collected taste data by using strips containing 4 basic levels of taste (sweet, salty, bitter, sour) in different concentrations.

“Plain strips with no tastants impregnated in them were also used to determine the possibility of phantogeusia or patients confabulating,” authors added.

A total of 100 patients and 100 controls were included in the study, with ages ranging between 19 and 86, and 20 and 85 years, respectively.

Analyses revealed:

  • Cases consisted of 4 (4%) stage 1 CKD, 8 (8%) stage 2 CKD, 19 (19%) stage 3 CKD, 22 (22%) stage 4 CKD, and 47 (47%) stage 5
  • Hypogeusia (reduced ability to taste) was found in 27% of patients with CKD, while total taste function score of all the control was within normal range
  • The duration of CKD >24 months was significant as a predictor of taste dysfunction among patients with CKD (odds ratio [OR], 4.889; P = .038)
  • The stages of CKD had no statistically significant relationship with the severity of taste dysfunction (P = .629).
  • There was no significant relationship between age and taste function score among patients with CKD (P = .122)

“Generally, it is believed that aging affects taste perception and this has been shown to be true in this study among healthy populations similar to previous studies,” authors explained. “Although the taste scores of the controls were within normal range (normogeusia), there was still significant reduction in taste scores among them with aging.”

Because most patients seen at the hospital included in the analysis had advanced stages of CKD, researchers were unable to recruit equal proportions of patients with different CKD stages, marking a limitation to the study.

“Incorporation of assessment of taste function and identification and treatments of its predictors in the routine clinical encounter will improve the quality of life and patients’ outcomes,” authors concluded.


Yusuf T, Raji YR, Lasisi TJ, et al. Predictors of taste dysfunction and its severity among patients with chronic kidney disease. Ear Nose Throat J. Published online July 19, 2021. doi:10.1177/01455613211019708.

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