Setting: Beijing, approximately 2200, but tech levels have fluctuated heavily. The level of medical care available can be fudged to taste.
Query: Is it possible for oral exposure to a caustic chemical to cause long-term loss of taste?
Details: I would like my character M to have moderate to severe loss of taste as a result of torture that occurred five years ago. I know from research that the sense of taste can be lost through exposure to things like tobacco. Taste buds regrow, but presumably it’s possible to damage the cells so severely that they never recover.
The scenario that I currently have is that he was forced to hold a small amount of bleach in his mouth using duct tape. He tried not to swallow it, but succumbed and was poisoned. This occurred in the past, so it doesn’t have to be very detailed, but I need to know if it’s feasible or not.
Would M involuntarily swallow or vomit and choke before permanent damage could be done to his sense of taste? Is permanent damage even possible by these means? Would it be possible only through multiple incidents of exposure to chemicals? Would his ability to speak and breathe also be affected by such damage five years after the fact? My medical understanding is limited, and I’m a bit reluctant to drink bleach myself and test it out. Note that M received treatment for the chlorine poisoning very soon after the damage was done, so the direct aftereffects are not so much an issue.
I’m using bleach at the moment, but I’m willing to change a lot about this scenario to achieve the loss of taste, including the chemical used. The only thing I can’t really change is the time line.
Thank you for your time. Any info is appreciated!