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Aim of this retrospective study was to obtain information about the frequency of taste disorders, their most frequent causes, and typical symptoms. A total of 491 out of 4,680 patients (presenting for the first time between 1998 and 2011) exhibited taste disorders (10.5 %). All patients underwent a thorough physical otorhinolaryngological examination including detailed assessment of smell and taste functions. The three most frequent causes of disorders were idiopathic (34 %), posttraumatic (24 %), and postoperative (15 %). Patients with idiopathic and postoperative taste disorders complained mainly about hypogeusia and parageusia; in comparison, patients with posttraumatic taste disorders exhibited a relatively higher degree of partial, local, or complete ageusia. Among patients with phantogeusia and parageusia, 38 % reported salty, and 22 % mixed sensations like bitter-salty or sour-sweet. In approximately 1/3 of this group of patients the cause of dysgeusia is unknown. Twenty-one percent of the patients complained of qualitative rather than quantitative taste problems.