Making Sense of Age-Linked Sensory Decline

Web site explains natural drop in taste, smell during senior years

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SUNDAY, Aug. 14, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Life can be sweet in the "golden years," but experts say many older Americans experience age-related declines in their sense of taste.

Furthermore, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), two out of three Americans over age 80, and about 30 percent of those between the ages of 70 and 80, will have problems with their sense of smell.

To provide more information, the NIH SeniorHealth Web site is offering a senior-friendly format explaining how these senses work, how smell and taste are affected by age or illness, and what older adults can do to cope with declines in these senses.

"Although the senses of smell and taste do decline with age, anyone who experiences significant loss of smell or taste or a sudden change in one of their senses should seek medical attention," Dr. James F. Battey Jr., director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), said in a prepared statement.

"Loss of smell or taste can be indicative of an underlying medical condition and should not be ignored. NIH SeniorHealth provides a valuable resource of information on these important issues," Battey said.

The NIDCD developed the content for the taste and smell topics on the NIH SeniorHealth Web site.

Smell and taste are closely linked in the brain. That's why many people who are having trouble with their sense of smell mistakenly believe they have a problem with taste. Problems with smell or taste can cause certain foods to lose their appeal and result in unhealthy eating habits.

More information

Here's where you can find NIH SeniorHealth.

SOURCE: NIH SeniorHealth, news release, Aug. 8, 2005

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