About Taste and Smell Disorders
We rely on our sense of taste and smell for a variety of purposes, many of which most of us take for granted. For instance, detecting smoke or a gas leak has saved a countless number of individuals from safety hazards. How many times have you sniffed food from the fridge to make sure that it was still safe to eat? Our sense of taste and smell also ensures that we want to eat, and helps us to determine what foods and beverages give us the most pleasure. Simply smelling flowers or freshly brewed coffee can be a fantastic experience.
Unfortunately, conditions such as a common cold or sinusitis can block our nasal passages causing us to lose our sense of taste or smell. Other disorders can cause a person to lose their sense of smell or taste for long periods of times or permanently. The following scientific names describe common taste and smell disorders:
- Ageusia is the inability to taste
- Dysgeusia is a distorted ability to taste
- Hypogeusia is the decreased ability to taste
- Anosmia is the inability to detect odors
- Dysosmia is a distorted detection of odor
- Hyposmia is the decreased ability to detect odor
There are also variations of these disorders. For example, a person with a distorted sense of smell may detect smells when there are no odors present; may detect an odor as unpleasant even though the odor was pleasant to them before the disorder developed; or may lack the ability to contrast different odors.
If you are experiencing changes to your sense of smell and taste that cannot be attributed to a cold or other obvious reason, discuss your symptoms with an ENT doctor. An ear, nose and throat specialist will be able to determine what is affecting your senses, and will advise appropriate treatment depending on the cause.