There are so many possible reasons a person can partially lose their sense of taste. Its something that really takes a doctor to identify.
He could have come into contact with something toxic. He could have burned out the lining on the inside of his mouth. He may have a parasite or neurological problem - he may even just be pulling your leg.
The "spice" in spicy food is a chemical called capsaicin. You do not actually "taste" capsaicin. It is a chemical that has no taste. Rather instead in larger doses, it inflames sensitive skin, causing a burning sensation. This sensation is actually rated in scoville units. Originally, people just tasted spicy foods and rated it based on what they thought. But today, scoville units can be rated using modern technology. There dozens of peppers with different scoville ratings. For example, your average bell pepper has a rating of 0 scoville units. A jalapeno can rate around 50,000, a chilli pepper around 75,000. A hobenero pepper rates at about 500,000 scoville units and I hear another pepper located in India actually tops 1 million scoville units.
Capsaicin does not just inflame the lining of the mouth. It can also irritate the membranes of the nose, throat and stomach as well as your anus - hence why a day after eating spicy foods, it burns. But that is also the reason people can experience indigestion and heart burn as well.
All in all I say your dad is probably bluffing. If you doubt him, give him a challenge. Tell him you'll give him 20 bucks if he doesn't just eat a habenero pepper, but chews it thoroughly and then swallows it. Don't worry if he drinks water with it, it only spreads the capcaisin around and makes it worse.
If he can surive that, then he must either eat a bunch of spicy food like mad, or there may really be something medically wrong with him!
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