In a recent New Scientist (27th April, 2013), Mick O’Hare interviewed Carl Philpott, director of the UK’s first Smell and Taste Clinic and Philpott states that around 1 in 20 people are affected by taste and smell disorders (compared with 1 in 30 people in the UK who have some form of sight loss and 1 in 6 who have a hearing disorder). The Clinic has been set up to help people combat ‘olfactory or gustatory loss’. I thought the work they’re doing there sounded quite interesting. The Clinic’s website explains:
“Our sense of smell (olfaction) is constantly helping us throughout the day whether we’re noticing it not. The delightful aromas of lunch on its way, the smell of cut grass or flowers can put a smile on many faces. [Our] sense of smell is also a highly sensitive warning system – alerting us to danger signals such as a gas leak, supper burning on the stove or the mouldy food in the fridge.
Losing this sense can therefore have various negative effects – whether it’s missing out on the sensory pleasures of the world around us, losing this honed warning alert or occasionally it may be a sign of more serious health problem. Anosmia is the term used for a complete loss of smell and hyposmia is the term used for a reduced sense of smell.”
Ref: James Paget University Hospitals (nd) ‘Smell and Taste Clinic’ http://www.jpaget.nhs.uk/section.php?id=22284