Taste and Smell Disorders
Imagine not being able to smell your favorite aromas, whatever they may be (perhaps cinnamon rolls, freshly brewed coffee, gardenias, or balsam). Think about the foods you like so much. What if you couldn’t taste them? This is a daily reality for people who partially or completely lose their senses of taste and smell. Some of life’s most pleasurable experiences are associated with the senses of taste and smell. For that reason, disorders that cause a loss of taste and smell can be particularly frustrating. They can also be dangerous when they impair a person’s ability to notice dangerous situations, such as smoke or toxic fumes. Because taste and smell disorders can decrease a person’s enjoyment in eating, they may also lead to weight loss and even malnutrition.
The Taste-Smell LinkRemember when you were a child and your mother made you eat something that you didn’t like? You might have held your nose as you swallowed. Even then, you sensed that there was a connection between taste and smell. And you were right: taste and smell are closely linked. Taste buds on your tongue identify taste, and nerves in your nose identify smells. Both sensations combine to play a role in your ability to recognize and appreciate flavors. There are five basic taste sensations can be recognized without the sense of smell:
- Umami (the savory taste elicited by glutamate, found in protein-rich foods such as chicken broth, meats, extracts, and some cheeses)