Science & Technology

When the taste and smell disappear forever

In 2018, Jennifer Calverson was at his home in Charleston, South Carolina, and was violently beaten by his then-boyfriend. (Culberson’s name was changed to protect her identity.) Her attacker overwhelmed her and slammed her head on the floor with enough force to cause traumatic brain injury. For the weeks and months that followed, Culberson couldn’t walk or get out of bed. She had a hard time putting the words together and her speech was unclear.

Her most direct wounds healed and it took Culberson several months to fully assess the damage done to her brain. But when everything was said and done, she noticed another painful consequence of the assault: she had lost all sense of taste and smell.

The moment after the first attack, it wasn’t the first thing in her head. But over time, Culberson realized that as easy as enjoying a nice meal with friends was more than just food. “When I go out for dinner with my friends today, I don’t want to miss the experience altogether, so I ask my friends to explain the taste of the meal,” she says.

Traumatic brain injury is a common cause of taste and smell, but it is not the only one.Almost 1 in 5 Americans According to the National Institutes of Health, some taste loss occurs over the age of 40, and more people change their odor sensations.These sensations are age, specific medications, or Various medical conditions — From autoimmune diseases such as Parkinson’s disease to cancer.And of course, the conditions have recently been associated COVID-19 (New Coronavirus Infection)..

More than an appetizing meal

As with Culberson, most patients are unaware that they have lost their sense of taste and smell until the fog has recovered from the initial injury and has time to assess the injury. “Patients may be confused or taking medication early after traumatic brain injury,” said the medical director of the Brain Injury Center and the associate medical director of the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. Brian Greenwald said. “And if they are hospitalized, they aren’t eating the kind of food they were eating, so they aren’t noticed much at first.”

He says that it is often his patient’s lack of appetite that shows a secondary loss of taste and smell. Appetite is partly driven by these sensations, without which we can eat less. Weight loss is another sometimes unfortunate side effect, he says.

In short, it keeps our appetite intact and ensures a sufficient amount of food to stay healthy. This was especially important in prehistoric times when food was hard to reach. But taste and smell protect us from danger and are also important for our survival as a species, says Greenwald. The smell of smoke is a sign of fire, the smell of gas warns of gas leaks, and the unpleasant smell indicates that food is stinking and cannot be eaten safely.

He adds that loss of taste and smell also affects our mood and mental health. Some people may be depressed as a result of what they miss. The connection with wine and food is a common example, but you may also miss something that isn’t very noticeable, such as people or places close to you. “I remember taking care of a young mother who had a serious traumatic brain injury and had a secondary loss of smell,” says Greenwald. “She was depressed because she couldn’t smell her children and missed the connections she felt from them.”

Unfortunately, loss of taste and smell is a common consequence of traumatic brain injury and can be affected by the affected areas of the brain. Even outside the brain, the thin, faint olfactory nerves are filled with shuttle information from the nose and mouth to the brain. (Taste and smell are closely related because both taste buds and neurons from the nose are transported together.) On their way to the brain, they travel through a bony structure called the cribriform plate. To do. It can cut nerves and impair your taste and smell abilities.

According to Greenwald, in about 30% of cases, nerves are naturally repaired and sensation is restored. However, after a year or two, the injury is usually considered permanent.

Taste, smell, COVID-19

Recently, loss of taste and smell has been associated with the diagnosis of COVID-19. However, in this case, according to Rajeev Fernando, an infectious disease consultant at FEMA emergency field hospitals across the country, the sensation is much more likely to return, usually within about four weeks. But sometimes that doesn’t happen.If the taste and smell disappear for more than a month, it is “Symptoms of long-distance transporters” Recovery may take longer.

Coronavirus attaches to receptors that are abundant in the nasal passages, preventing them from functioning normally and causing loss of taste and smell in most people. In fact, this is the most common sign of a viral infection. If you have vague constitutional symptoms, feel sick, and suddenly lose your sense of taste or smell, Fernando usually says he is confident that he is infected with COVID-19.

Initially, doctors used steroids to stimulate the senses, but they have proven ineffective. “”Smell trainingHowever, it is not possible for patients to regularly smell familiar scents such as garlic and oranges. Recent research Improves the recovery of the sense of smell. Still, there are many unknowns. Researchers are not entirely sure why the taste and smell will come back sooner or not to others. “I’ve seen some cases that are a year old, but I don’t know why,” says Fernando.

As for Culberson, she still hopes her senses will return someday. She smells the essential oils every day and tries to put on the same perfume she wore before the attack. For now, she can taste the spices and feel the bubbling of the drink bubbling on her tongue. And once in a while, she will come across food that she vows to taste … but most of the time, after three years, the taste and smell haven’t returned.

She says she saw people around her temporarily lose these sensations because of COVID-19, and in a way, people became more sympathetic to her situation. They can better understand why the taste and smell are more than just a gorgeous meal or a great glass of wine. “Until it’s gone, we can’t understand how important it is,” she says.

When the taste and smell disappear forever When the taste and smell disappear forever

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