Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Your Chemosensory Warning System

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Your Chemosensory Warning System

Article excerpt

Smell or taste problems may signal disease.

If you experience loss of smell and/or taste or distortions of these senses, you should take these symptoms seriously. They can help doctors diagnose underlying disease.

"Abnormalities in smell and taste functions accompany and even signal the existence of various diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, malnutrition, and some neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's." This warning is from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communicable Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in its fact sheet entitled "Smell and Taste Disorders."

If your chemosensory system of taste and smell is functioning properly, it also serves as an early warming system for environmental threats to your health, NIDCD says. Smell and taste alert us to fires, poisonous fumes, leaking gas, and spoiled foods.

Dr. Richard L. Doty, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School's Smell and Taste Center, Dr. James B. Snow, Jr., NIDCD Director, and other scientists at the Philadelphia Smell and Taste Center have studied 750 people who complained of olfactory and taste problems.

According to NIH Healthline: "The scientists recently reported that upper respiratory infections, head trauma, and chronic sinus conditions caused deficiencies of smell in 60 percent of cases. A larger percentage of women than men had smell deficiencies related to upper respiratory infection; a greater number of males had impaired sense of smell attributable to head trauma."

Healthline also noted that Dr. Doty found distortions in smell or taste perceptions could be associated with a variety of underlying causes, such as depression, antidepressant drugs, or thyroid diseases.

Of the more than 10 million Americans estimated in one study to have chemosensory disorders, "the predominant problem is a natural decline in smell ability that typically occurs after age 60," according to NIDCD. …

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