Don't ignore the loss of taste and smell - The Clinical Advisor
Patients with compromised smell and taste senses can experience family discord and expose themselves and others to danger because they. Now and then someone would say, “It sounds like low thyroid can cause almost every Some patients are found to have diminished sense of smell and taste, ( also known as The connection between headaches and thyroid function. Smell and taste disorders can be total (all odors or tastes), partial Unlike lower animals, axons projecting from the VNO have not been found in . studies have shown a correlation with reduced sense of smell and smoking.
Taste and smell are separate senses with their own receptor organs, yet they are intimately entwined.
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Tastants, chemicals in foods, are detected by taste buds, which consist of special sensory cells. When stimulated, these cells send signals to specific areas of the brain, which make us conscious of the perception of taste. Similarly, specialized cells in the nose pick up odorants, airborne odor molecules. Odorants stimulate receptor proteins found on hairlike cilia at the tips of the sensory cells, a process that initiates a neural response. Ultimately, messages about taste and smell converge, allowing us to detect the flavors of food.
Illustration by Lydia V. Just as sound is the perception of changes in air pressure and sight the perception of lighttastes and smells are the perception of chemicals in the air or in our food. Separate senses with their own receptor organs, taste and smell are nonetheless intimately entwined. This close relationship is most apparent in how we perceive the flavors of food.
Actually, what is really being affected is the flavor of the food, or the combination of taste and smell. However, interactions between the senses of taste and smell enhance our perceptions of the foods we eat. Tastants, chemicals in foods, are detected by taste budsspecial structures embedded within small protuberances on the tongue called papillae. When facial and sucking responses were studied in infants, researchers found that sweet solutions increased sucking action.
Salty solutions led to different facial reactions and decreased sucking activity. It is therefore evident that flavor and taste are well- developed at birth.
Testing has shown that infants exposed to carrots in mother's milk over a period of several weeks enjoyed carrot-flavored cereal more than plain cereal as compared with babies whose mothers avoided carrots.
Human milk is rich in flavors that reflect the mother's ingestion of such things as garlic, alcohol, and carrots. Cigarettes and alcohol diminish the flavor of milk. Babies have been noted to breastfeed less with mothers who have been drinking alcohol, but this appears to be more the result of depressed milk production than lack of interest on the part of the baby. Patients learn to avoid certain foods that in the past have caused stomach upsets, headaches, or even a skin eruption. More severe sensitivities can lead to appetite and weight loss.
Cancer, alcohol, tobacco, and exposure to certain drugs can influence flavor and lead to subsequent aversion. Investigation revealed that she had been taking the antibiotic clarithromycin Biaxin for an infection. Biaxin is an excellent medication, but it can occasionally cause an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
When the medication was stopped, Heather's ability to taste gradually returned. Other commonly used medications that can cause taste and flavor difficulties are allopurinol, captopril, enalapril, nitroglycerin, diltiazem, dipyridamole, nifedipine, hydrochlorothiazide, lisinopril, lithium, lovastatin, and levodopa. Underlying causes Stomach disturbances can cause diminished flavor or an annoying bad taste.
When gastric reflux is to blame, heartburn and indigestion can provide diagnostic clues. In many cases, the cause is laryngopharyngeal reflux, in which there are no stomach complaints, just redness and swelling of the larynx. Patients may complain of constant throat clearing, hoarseness, and cough.
Taste and Smell
Endoscopy may be unrevealing. Chemical exposure can impair taste and the perception of flavor. In the past, silver-jewelry workers have suffered disturbances in flavor because of exposure to lead fumes.
Steelworkers, brass foundry workers, and, as previously noted, persons exposed to pesticides can have their taste reduced. However, this occurs in only about 0.
Surgical procedures of the head and neck can interfere with the nerves responsible for taste. The chorda tympani nerve, which is responsible for taste in the front portion of the tongue, can be stretched or severed during surgery on the middle ear. Dentists extracting the third molar can cause lingual nerve injury resulting in taste complaints. Bronchoscopy, laryngoscopy, and tonsillectomy can result in subsequent complaints of flavor dysfunction due to involvement of the lingual and glossopharyngeal nerves.
Radiation therapy affecting certain nerves can lead to taste and flavor impairment. Salivary-gland disruption and infections in the mouth can be complicating features. Unforeseen effects An elderly man and his wife, who had been happily married for 45 years, were experiencing marital problems. The husband had several complaints, the main one having to do with his wife's cooking.
Even the aroma of cooking food upset him and was unappealing.
Examination and testing found polyps that blocked the man's nasal canals, diminishing his sense of smell and, in turn, his sense of taste. When the polyps were removed, marital harmony was restored.
While marital difficulties are not life-threatening, other effects of smell and taste difficulty can present danger. As previously noted, the inability to smell smoke, leaking gas, or chemicals and the inability to taste spoiled food can put patients and others around them at risk.
Cardiac patients on restricted diets may add excess salt to their food when it appears deficient, and diabetics may add extra sugar when flavor appears absent. Chefs, bakers, wine tasters, and others may have their livelihoods threatened when taste and flavor are impaired.
Anxiety and depression often result and require medical assistance. Even when a patient seeks help, his clinician may not realize the impact taste deficiency can have.