Anosmia: Losing ones sense of smell is believed to be much less devastating than becoming blind or deaf, but why? A slight or absolute loss of the sense of smell is known as Anosmia. Whether this loss is long term or temporary is dependent on the situation at hand. Cases of temporary anosmia, can be caused by a cold or allergies. Where as permanent loss of smell can be prompted by serious head trauma or damage to the brain, including brain tumours. A more recognised cause of Anosmia is old age. As people grow old our senses can become impaired or they can start to decline. People suffering from anosmia can often find themselves struggling to taste the flavours of food, which can lead to disinterest in eating. This can in turn lead to malnutrition and weight loss. The impairment of one’s sense of smell or disability to taste the full essence of delectable foods can lead to depression. So, I ask again, why is the loss of smell believed to be a lesser misfortune then deafness or blindness?
Loss of Smell: The loss of smell opens up doors of opportunity to make easy errors, that most of us bypass all the time without even registering it. The taste of off milk or yoghurt is enough to make someone sick and veer away from ever drinking or eating it again. A common mistake that people suffering from anosmia can experience. For a chef, smelling is vital and without being able to smell garlic or spices, food can lack flavour and omph. Mixing up vodka and water is not a mistake many of us want to make. However it is something that is often made. Without the potent stench of vodka, there isn’t much seperating the two from one another.
The current pandemic, COVID - 19, has caused millions to fall sick with the illness. With symptoms including loss of smell. However, this symptom for an unknown reason can be the only symptom some experience and the first indicator of catching the virus. Olfactory dysfunction is now recorded as a main symptom of the virus. As a result of COVID -19, the world is believed to be experiencing a sensory pivot. The pandemic has impacted all of the senses, not directly, but the environment and circumstances in which we experience our senses has been greatly affected.
Envisioning Colour: Generally people are known to smell in colour. In a recent talk by Dawn Goldworm, co-founder of what she calls her “olfactive branding company”, this theory was tested by handing out pieces of paper to the audience that had been dipped in scents. Like most individuals, when smelling vetiver, a grass like smell, the audience affiliated it with colours of brown and green. Citrus-flavoured mandarin was accompanied with colours of
yellow, green, and orange.
Intensity of Smells: To a writer, the scent of a book can be just as important as what is written inside. Many of us, after buying a new book bring it to our nose, and breathe in the freshly printed pages. Although, how do we describe that aroma? Often, it is impossible to describe. Similarly, we cannot recount the smell of many things, yet these smells can be of importance to us. However, often the intensity of certain smells strengthens our relation and significance to them, and tie us to certain memories or emotions.
Tasting Flavour: Taste and smell share a strong relationship. When chewing, the molecules in the food being consumed, retreat back retro-nasally to the nasal epithelium, effectively meaning, “all of what you consider flavour is smell. When you are eating all the beautiful, complicated flavours… they are smell.” This theory can be challenged by holding your nose while eating something such as white or dark chocolate. In doing so, as opposed to tasting the flavour, all you can taste is sweet.
The only fully evolved sense a foetus has in the womb is their sense of smell, and it continues to be the most evolved sense in a child until the age of ten when sight comes into play. Since “emotion and smell are stored as one memory”, the foundation for which smells are considered good or bad to someone are determined for the rest of your life in early childhood.
This chapter touches on the biological side to our nose and sense of smell. Loss of smell, Covid 19, Envisioning colour when you smell, Intensity of smells and Tasting flavour are included.