Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Alcohol's effect on my sense of smell

For a few years prior to losing my olfaction, I noticed that anytime I drank alcohol there would be an immediate effect on my sense of smell (and therefore, my sense of taste). Sometimes it was dramatic, other times not so much. But it always annoyed me that if I wanted a cocktail before dinner or a glass of wine with dinner, there would be the subsequent reaction and it became impossible to do both at once.

I've never been a big wine drinker but as my palate matured over the years I did enjoy good wine with food. Frustratingly, it got to the point where I'd enjoy one or the other. And even if I did opt for wine or a pre-dinner cocktail, it wasn't long before I couldn't taste that either! Imagine enjoying a great cabernet and by the second glass you can barely taste it.

As I've just passed my one year anniversary of being anosmic (woo-hoo!), something got me thinking about all of this: Could the fact that have at least one and usually more drinks almost every night be contributing to at least some of my anosmia?

I recently did some searching online and found that one of the effects of alcohol can be inflammation of nasal/sinus passages. As I always noticed an effect and since I've become quite the martini drinker, I thought I'd stop drinking and see if it has even the slightest effect on my sense of smell.

So, as of Monday November 27 I'm laying off alcohol. I would hope that any benefit would happen almost immediately, i.e. within days. As of the 28'th I've noticed no benefit but we shall see.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Congenital anosmics

So I found a nice anosmic forum where I put a few posts and introduced myself. I soon found out that most of the folks on there are "congenital" anosmics. That is, they have been without the ability to smell anything since birth.

When I mentioned in one of my posts that I cannot taste anything, I was "corrected" in that I can indeed "taste". I just do not get any "flavor". I mentioned how, yes, I can in fact taste and that I understand that the taste buds only taste sweet, salty, sour etc. But whether you call it flavor or taste, all food is the same, tasteless/flavorless. A pizza has the same taste as oatmeal, that is NONE!

A few people replied (all who were congenitally anosmic it seems) that they all can in fact taste things. One gentleman suggested I try rolling food around my mouth, over and under my tonge etc so that my taste buds can get the true taste of the food.

The image of this to me is, well, not pretty.

Look, as any anosmic knows, the taste we get from food comes from the aromas that are dispersed through chewing. This is obvious. But it seems to me, and not wanting to be disrespectful to anyone who's had this miserable condition all their life, that if you were NEVER able to smell, you don't know what true taste is.

I would challenge anyone who is congenitally anosmic to take 3 sticks of chewing gum: 1 flavored spearmint, one peppermint and one wintergreen and tell me which are which. I don't think it would happen.

For someone who once knew what a glass of grapefruit juice tastes like, I find it hard to believe that someone who has never smelled, actually knows what it really tastes like.