How Smell and Taste Change as You Age
Article by National Institute on Aging
“Did you know that your sense of smell and taste are connected? As you get older, these senses can change, and, like Sally, you may find that certain foods aren’t as flavorful as they used to be. Changes in smell or taste can also be a sign of a larger problem.
Your Sense of Smell Smell is an important sense. Certain smells, like your dad’s cologne, can help you recall a memory. Other smells, like smoke from a fire, can alert you to danger. When you can’t smell things you enjoy, like your morning coffee or spring flowers, life may seem dull.
As you get older, your sense of smell may fade. Your sense of smell is closely related to your sense of taste. When you can’t smell, food may taste bland. You may even lose interest in eating.
What Causes Loss of Smell? Many problems cause a loss of smell that lasts for a short time. This temporary loss of smell may be due to:
- A cold or flu that causes a stuffy nose. The ability to smell will come back when you’re better.
- Allergies. Try to stay away from things you’re allergic to, like pollen and pets. Talk to your doctor about how to manage your allergies.
- A harmless growth (called a polyp) in the nose or sinuses that gives you a runny nose. Having the growth removed may help.
- Some medications like antibiotics or blood pressure medicine. Ask your doctor if there is another medicine you can take.
- Radiation, chemotherapy, and other cancer treatments. Your sense of smell may return when treatment stops.
- Some things can cause a long-lasting loss of smell. A head injury, for example, can damage the nerves related to smell.
Sometimes, losing your sense of smell may be a sign of a more serious disorder, such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. Be sure to tell your doctor about any change in your sense of smell.”