Our senses of taste and smell give us great pleasure. Taste helps us enjoy food and beverages. Smell lets us enjoy the scents and fragrances like roses or coffee. Taste and smell also protect us, letting us know when food has gone bad or when there is a gas leak. They make us want to eat, ensuring we get the nutrition we need.
People with taste disorders may taste things that aren't there, may not be able to tell the difference in tastes, or can't taste at all. People with smell disorders may lose their sense of smell, or things may smell different. A smell they once enjoyed may now smell bad to them.
Many illnesses and injuries can cause taste and smell disorders, including colds and head injuries. Some drugs can also affect taste and smell. Most people lose some ability to taste and smell as they get older. Treatment varies, depending on the problem and its cause.
NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
- Smell and Taste Disorders (Merck & Co., Inc.) Also in Spanish
- What Your Nose Knows: Sense of Smell and Your Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Bosma arhinia microphthalmia syndrome: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- Kallmann syndrome: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- Refsum disease: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Presence of gustatory and olfactory dysfunction in the time of the...
- Article: The insulo-opercular cortex encodes food-specific content under controlled and naturalistic conditions.
- Article: Clinical Features of Olfactory Dysfunction in COVID-19 Patients.
- Taste and Smell Disorders -- see more articles
- NIDCD Glossary (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)
Find an Expert
- American Rhinologic Society
- Directory of Organizations (Deafness and Communication Disorders) (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)
- Find an ENT (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders