Thank you for your interest in the Taste and Smell
Center. You are one of about 2 million adult Americans
affected by taste or smell disorders. Unfortunately, very
little is known about these problems, which is why our
Clinic was established in 1981 with funds from the National
Institutes of Health. We evaluate patients with taste and
smell problems at weekly clinics, as well as conduct taste
and smell research programs here at the Health Center.
Treatment is offered when appropriate, although less than a
third of patients evaluated here will be determined to have
a treatable taste or smell problem.
If you wish to be evaluated here, please contact our Call
Center at 860-679-2459
What Are the Chemical Senses?
The chemical senses include taste and smell. The
perception of a smell occurs when substances in the air pass
through the nose and stimulate the olfactory (smell) nerve.
The experience of taste, or gustation, occurs when the taste
buds in your mouth respond to substances dissolved in
saliva. The four basic tastes are salty, sweet, sour and
What Are Some of the Disorders of Taste and Smell?
- Anosmia - total loss of smell
- Hyposmia - partial loss of smell
- Parosmia - perceiving a smell when no odor is present or
perceiving familiar odors as smelling strange
- Hypogeusia - a diminished sense of taste
- Dysgeusia - a persistent taste, usually unpleasant
What Are the Causes of Taste and Smell Disorders?
Losses or distortions of taste and smell have many causes
such as nasal disease, upper respiratory infections, head
injury, neurological disorders, or dental problems. There
are some people who have had no sense of smell since birth.
Are Taste and Smell Related?
Taste and smell are two separate senses. However, both
contribute to the experience of flavor.
What Is Flavor?
Flavor is what people commonly call the "taste" of food.
It is actually a combination of smell, taste, spiciness,
temperature and texture. Much of the flavor of food comes
from smell, so that when you are unable to smell you have
lost much of your ability to experience flavor.
What Can Be Done to Improve the Flavor of Food?
Eating can be more enjoyable when the other aspects of
flavor, such as texture, temperature, and spiciness are
emphasized. Texture can be enhanced by adding crunchy foods
(nuts, croutons, water chestnuts) to your meals. Combining
cold and hot temperatures in the same dish (sour cream on a
baked potato), as well as trying hot and spicy foods may
help to make food less bland. Keep in mind that a pleasant
atmosphere and attractively prepared meals can also help to
make food more enjoyable.
What Other Suggestions Are There for People with a
We would strongly recommend that you equip your home with
smoke detectors. Those individuals potentially exposed to
gas leaks should consider purchasing a gas detector. Your
gas company should be able to supply you with information
regarding gas detectors. If not, the Taste and Smell Center
can be contacted for this information. In order to guard
against eating food you suspect may be spoiled, ask someone
else to smell it. If that is impossible, pay particular
attention to the dates stamped on most perishable foods and
do not consume them after that date.