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
- Disorders of Smell and Taste (American Rhinologic Society)
- Smell and Taste (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)
- Smell and Taste Disorders (Merck & Co., Inc.)
- What Your Nose Knows: Sense of Smell and Your Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Genetics Home Reference: Bosma arhinia microphthalmia syndrome (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: Kallmann syndrome (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: Refsum disease (National Library of Medicine)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Gustatory Function in Patients With Chronic Rhinosinusitis.
- Article: Enjoyment of Spicy Flavor Enhances Central Salty-Taste Perception and Reduces...
- Article: Enhancement of Neural Salty Preference in Obesity.
- Taste and Smell Disorders -- see more articles
- Smell 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
- How Smell and Taste Change as You Age (National Institute on Aging)