Losing your sense of smell: how bad can it be? (from New Scientist)
LOSING your sense of taste or smell might not rank very high on the list of things to worry about. Going blind or deaf would surely be worse.
Yet anosmia, as it is called, has a disproportionately negative effect. Deprived of the pleasure of eating and drinking, anosmics often descend into depression. With around 1 in 20 people affected – more than are visually impaired – the condition is responsible for an awful lot of human misery.
One of the reasons anosmia is so devastating is a lack of awareness. Doctors often assume nothing can be done and send patients away to suffer in silence (see "Living without smell or flavour"
. Research is low priority and funding for treatment is scarce.
Yet many cases are treatable with cheap drugs. Given the economic and human costs of depression, treating anosmia may even save money in the long run.
Loss of smell is never going to tug at the heartstrings like breast cancer or other high-profile causes. But an awareness campaign aimed at doctors and patients wouldn't hurt. Anosmics of the world unite – you have nothing to lose but a world without flavour.