As people age, some realize hearing loss and reduced eyesight, but who would have thought you could lose your ability to smell?
According to the Feb. 13, Wall Street Journal, “From 3 million to 4 million Americans have been diagnosed with conditions such as anosmia, the complete inability to smell, and hyposmia, a reduced capacity,” an estimation given by Dr. Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell & Taste Treatment & Research Foundation, in Chicago.
And the numbers are “expected to rise sharply” as baby boomers get older.
Smell is connected to taste, so with the diminished ability to smell comes a reduction in the number of flavors one can enjoy.
Loss of the olfactory senses can even spell danger when one cannot smell danger – tainted food or a gas leak are just two examples.
Although colds can result in loss of smell, usually temporary, aging can bring about a permanent reduction in smell or total loss.
One way to exercise those olfactory glands is suggested by Scott Carney, master sommelier and director of wine education at the International Culinary Center based in New York. He teaches students “to visualize the scent notes found in wine.” If one of Carney’s students is having difficulty identifying an individual note, he suggests that the student go to the market, find the particular fruit, and smell it.
"Everyone will have a slightly different interpretation," Mr. Carney says, "but at the end of the day you've made sense of what it smells like to you."
Dr, Hirsch offers a simple self-evaluation test for one to determine if his or her ability to smell is diminished. Close your eyes and taste a little vanilla ice cream and then some chocolate and if you cannot tell the difference, your sense of smell may be reduced or completely gone
If you find your sense of smell is lacking, Dr. Hirsch recommends what he calls “sniff therapy.”
Gather together four items that have pleasant but very different odors – flowers, fruit, body wash or perfume, coffee. Avoid irritating odors – ammonia, onions, and the like. Dr. Hirsch suggests smelling these things four to six times per day to sharpen your sense of smell.
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