To determine the characteristics of causative factors of taste disorders amongst the elderly, and to examine the therapeutic effect of a zinc agent, taking into account age-related factors.
A total of 408 patients with taste disorders were divided into three groups by age: 49 years or younger, 50 to 64 years old, and 65 years or older.
The incidence of taste disorders caused by drug administration and systemic disease were significantly higher in the elderly group. A serum zinc concentration of 69 µg/dl or lower was found in 33 per cent of the elderly group, significantly more (p < 0.001) than the 19 per cent of the 49 years or younger group with such a concentration. Zinc administration was therapeutically effective in 70 per cent of the whole population studied, and in 74 per cent of the elderly population.
In the elderly, the incidence of taste disorders caused by drug administration or systemic disease was significantly greater compared with other age groups. The curative effects of zinc administration were not observed to be influenced by age.
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