Problems with Taste


The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, a component of the National Institutes of Health, funds basic and clinical studies of smell and taste disorders. This type of research is leading to a fuller understanding of how our sense of taste works and how we detect and taste sensations at the molecular level.

Studies on Aging and Taste

Scientists have made progress in understanding how our sense of taste changes as we age. For example, we now know that age takes a much greater toll on smell than it does on taste. Also, taste cells -- and smell cells -- are the only sensory cells that are regularly replaced throughout life. Understanding why this happens may help researchers find ways to replace damaged sensory cells.

Older adults often decide what to eat based on how much they like or dislike certain tastes. Scientists are looking at how and why this happens in order to develop more effective ways to help older people cope better with taste problems.

Researching New Treatments

Scientists are also working to find out why some medications and medical procedures can have a harmful effect on our sense of taste and our sense of smell. They hope to come up with treatments to help restore the sense of taste to people who have lost it. Possible solutions include medicines and artificial food products that will allow older adults with taste disorders to enjoy food again.