Smell and Taste Disorders

What are smell and taste disorders?

The most common smell and taste disorders are:

  • Anosmia. Loss of sense of smell.
  • Ageusia. Loss of sense of taste.
  • Hyposmia. Reduced ability to
  • Hypogeusia. Reduced ability to taste
    sweet, sour, bitter, or salty things.

In other disorders, odors, tastes,
or flavors may be misread or changed. They may cause you to get a bad odor or taste from
something that is normally pleasant to smell or taste. These disorders can affect
quality of life. They may also be a sign of an underlying disease.

Problems with taste and smell may
be signs of certain health problems, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor nutrition
  • Nervous system diseases such as:
    • Parkinson disease
    • Alzheimer disease
    • Multiple sclerosis

What causes smell and taste disorders?

Some people are born with these
disorders. But most are caused by:

  • Illness. Fsuch as cold or flu, sinus
    infection, and allergies.
  • Head injury
  • Hormone changes
  • Dental or mouth problems
  • Nasal polyps
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Certain medicines
  • Exposure to radiation therapy for head or neck cancer
  • Cocaine snorted through the nose
  • Cigarette smoking

What are the symptoms of smell and taste disorders?

Symptoms can vary. Some people may
not be able to smell or taste anything. Others may have a reduced ability to smell or
taste certain things that are sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. In some cases, normally
pleasant tastes or smells may become unpleasant.

How are smell and taste disorders diagnosed?

Along with a complete health
history and physical exam, other tests may include:

  • Measuring the lowest strength of a
    chemical that you can recognize
  • Comparing tastes and smells of different chemicals
  • “Scratch and sniff” tests
  • “Sip, spit, and rinse” tests where
    chemicals are placed on certain parts of the tongue