February 17, 2009

Break through! Perhaps I can taste, but not smell… I found this, the Anosmia Foundation. Anosmia means a complete loss of the sense of smell (temporary or permanent). This is an interesting excerpt from their site:

Despite the close association, taste and smell are anatomically and functionally distinct… The olfactory system is vitally important in determining food flavors. During chewing and swallowing, odor-laden air is forced from the rear of the oral cavity to the olfactory receptors,evoking many flavor sensations that people usually associate with taste but that are almost completely dependent on the sense of smell. 

The sense of smell plays a major role in the flavor of foods and it is common for individuals who lose their sense of smell to report that food loses its taste. This is of course incorrect; the food has only lost its aroma, and taste (sweet, salty, sour, bitter) remains intact. 

Recent studies indicate an even greater importance of the interaction between smells and tastes in food flavor – the sensitivity to an odor (almond) actually improved when there was a sweet taste in the mouth, but not with a savory taste – almond + sweet is experienced as cherry – this suggests there is actually a specific site in the brain where integration of taste and smell information occurs – in other words, “flavor” is greater than the sum of taste + smell, so only getting half of the sensation will give you less than half of the “flavor quality”! 

Anosmics can taste quite well — nothing missing there. But they cannot experience flavor.

Smell is 10,000 times more powerful than taste. Taste is mostly (~75 %) smell. 

More info on this here.


There is a HUGE list of causes (check out the full list), here are some ones relevant to meningioms: 

  • cranial surgery
  • surgery with general anesthesia
  • transphenodial surgery
  • swelling of the brain 
  • polyps or tumours
  • Antidepressants & anticonvulsants: amitriptyline, carbamazepine, clomipramine, clozapine, desipramine, doxepin, fluoxetine, imipramine, lithium, phenytoin, trifluoperazine. 
  • Anti-inflammatories: auronofin, colchicine, dexamethasone, diclofenac, dimethyl sulfoxide, fgold, hydrocortisone, d=penicillamine penicillamine

Dexamethasone (brand name Decadron)  and Phenytoin (brand name Dilantin) are both on the list, and I think are both common drugs to be on after a craniotomy. I certainly was. Benefits outweigh the negatives though when you think about what they do.


One Response to “Anosmia”

  1. […] line stitched into my jugular in my neck. They were all attached to one kind of drug or another, Decadron, Dilantin, […]

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