Science Made Simple

Can we lose our sense of taste, and why do we dream?

We explore some of the curious questions that science can answer

Wednesday 01 September 2021 21:30
<p>Are dreams just random thoughts or could there be another meaning? </p>

Are dreams just random thoughts or could there be another meaning?

Can we lose our sense of taste and smell?

Yes, and people who go to their GP reporting a loss of either sense are, after testing, found to be either completely without smell or taste sensations or they may have a reduced sensitivity to particular tastes or smells. In some disorders of the chemical senses, the system may misread and distort a smell, a taste, or a flavour. Or a person may detect a bad smell or taste from a substance that is normally nice. Smell disorders are more common than taste disorders and both are potentially serious. A person with faulty chemosenses is deprived of an early warning that most of us take for granted. Smell and taste alert us to fires, poisonous fumes, leaking gas, and spoiled food and beverages. Smell and taste losses can also lead to depression because eating just isn’t fun anymore.

Some people are born with poor senses of taste or smell, but most develop them after an injury or illness. Upper respiratory infections and head injuries are frequently blamed. Loss of the sense of smell can result from polyps in the nasal cavities, sinus infections, hormonal disturbances, or dental problems. Loss of smell and taste also can be caused by exposure to chemicals such as insecticides and by some medicines. For example, many patients find that their sense of taste and smell is affected after receiving radiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck.

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