Factors that hurt the ability to smell and taste

Almost all of us find that there are certain times in our lives when we cannot smell or taste as well as normal. Below is a list of everyday factors that can cause this deficiency.

Factors that hurt the ability to smell and taste
  • Colds and other respiratory infections
  • Hay fever (rhinitis) and other allergies
  • Sinus conditions
  • Nasal polyps
  • Dental disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Side effects of some medications
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Vitamin deficiency

There are other illnesses and accidents that can have a major impact on taste and smell — head injuries, brain tumours, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, as well as exposure to chemicals, toxins or radiation. Exposure to certain harmful substances may be unavoidable. But you will realize that at least some of the risk factors listed are within your control.

Be alert to changes

  • The message here is to never ignore reduced, distorted, or lost sensations of taste or smell, nor accept them as an inevitable feature of getting older — not least because they may alert your doctor to other potentially treatable problems.
  • People with impaired smell and taste also have an impaired quality of life.
  • As well as losing interest in food, you may cut back on going out to eat or inviting friends over for a meal, or even popping next door for a coffee. A lunch at your local pub or a snack in your favourite café no longer seems so tempting.
  • A hobby such as gardening might lose some of its appeal if you can't smell the fragrant flowers that you're growing. And your home may be less welcoming to others if you can't detect and banish unpleasant odours, such as the smell of pets or stale cooking.
  • So although they may not seem as crucial to your well-being as sight and hearing, paying attention to smell and taste is important.
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