Smell and Taste Disorders

What is the Frequency of Smell and Taste Disorders?

As many as 260 million people live in the United States, and according to one study, more than 2 million people have the disorder. About two hundred thousand people in the USA consult a doctor every year for this reason.

Are Smell and Taste Disorders Serious?

Smell and taste are important early warning sensations for which we should be thankful, and wrong smell and taste warn us of fire, toxic gases, and spoiled food. Smell disorder can be caused by a sinus problem, tissue growths in the nose, or, in rare cases, by brain tumors. For some occupational groups, such as cooks and firefighters, smell and taste is a professional reality and the loss of these feelings creates great economic problems.

How Does Smell and Taste Occur?

The senses of smell and taste belong to our chemical sense system. These complex processes begin when some chemicals originating from the substances around us stimulate our nose, mouth and throat. By stimulating the nerve endings, these messages are transmitted to the brain and are differentiated in the brain.

Olfactory nerve endings are located on the roof of the nose and directly stimulate the olfactory region in the brain within a very thin bone.

Food and drinks mix with saliva and stimulate the olfactory nerve endings in the mouth, tongue, and throat. They deliver the same stimulus to certain areas of the brain.

Smell and taste cells are being examined for their ability to regenerate when they are aged or damaged.

A third chemical sense system also exists. This is called the ‘general feeling system’. Thousands of sensory nerves located in the particularly moist areas of the eyes, nose and mouth sense ‘the rush of ammonia, the coolness of methol and the warmth of red pepper’.

We can generally distinguish four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. A flavor is formed by the combination of these flavors in certain proportions and the general feeling system. This special flavor allows us to get to know them.

Many substances are recognized mainly by their smell. If you cover your nose while eating chocolate, you may feel that the substance you are eating is sweet or bitter, but it is difficult to understand that it is chocolate. This is because the familiar flavor of chocolate is mostly perceived by smell. Likewise with coffee. If you notice, people who want to fully enjoy the taste of the food (such as cooks, taste experts) exhale through their noses after each swallow.

What Causes Taste and Smell Disorders?

The predominant problem is the decline of the natural sense of smell after the age of 60. Scientists have found that the ability to smell is best between the ages of 30 and 60. This condition begins to decline after age 60, and many older people have noted their olfactory abilities. However, in general, women of all ages are more sensitive to smell than men.

Some people may be born with a sense of smell and taste, but in many people this occurs after an accident or illness.

Inflammations of the upper respiratory tract are often blamed, and at the same time, olfactory disorders may occur in head fractures.

Smell and taste disorders can be caused by polyps in the nose, hormonal disorders and dental problems. It can also occur in those who are exposed to pesticides or certain other drugs for a long time.

Cigarette smoke is the most frequent and intense air pollution agent that humans encounter. It causes the discrimination of odors and a decrease in the sense of taste. Quitting smoking increases your sense of smell, but this happens very slowly.

For example, a person who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day needs to quit smoking for as long as they used to, in order to be able to smell the same as before.

Many people who have undergone radiation therapy for cancer in the head and neck region complain of smell and taste disorders.

People who have their trachea and vocal cords removed complain of a reduced sense of smell and taste. If tubes are applied to these people to allow them to breathe through their noses, they begin to taste and smell again (this shows how important it is to pass air through the nose in smell and taste).

How Are Smell and Taste Disorders Diagnosed?

Different intensities of smells and tastes are made to be recognized by people. The lowest intensity that the person can distinguish is found. In addition, different intensities of smells and tastes are tried, it is investigated whether they can distinguish them or if they can be noticed when their intensity is increased.

Can Smell and Taste Disorders Be Treated?

Sometimes a drug used is the sole cause of the smell and taste disorder and the situation improves when the drug is stopped or changed.

While some drugs can cause olfactory disorders, especially allergy medications can improve the sense of smell and taste.

Especially people who have severe colds, flu or increased allergies regain their sense of smell and taste only when their condition improves. In many cases, an improvement in olfactory and gustatory perception is observed with the removal of nasal obstruction polyps, and rarely, as the olfactory and taste receptors register themselves, they may resolve on their own.

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