News Release

May 9, 2006

Contact: Maureen McGuire, 860-679-4523

Unique Clinic Can Help Those Who Have Lost Their Sense of Taste or Smell  

Farmington, Conn. – Imagine life without the comforting smells of newly mown grass, fresh coffee or the first backyard barbeque of the season: for people with smell or taste disorders, some of life’s magic is lost.

An estimated 2 million Americans have some sort of taste or smell disorder. There are only five comprehensive centers in the U.S. to test, diagnose and treat these problems. Fortunately, one of the leading centers is at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington.

“Lost or impaired smell or taste is a very serious disorder that puts people at risk for a multitude of health problems, from toxic exposures, such as gas leaks, smoke or rotting food, to depression and weight loss,” said Norman M. Mann, M.D., medical director of the Taste and Smell Center.

“Of course, this condition also takes away the enjoyment of some of life’s pleasures like the fragrance of flowers and the taste of delicious, home-cooked foods,” he said.

While taste and smell are two different senses, both contribute to the experience of flavor, Dr. Mann explained. In fact, 75-percent of the flavor of food comes from smell. So, when people are unable to smell, they lose their ability to experience flavor.

What are the Causes?

“Here’s one more reason to wash your hands frequently, get plenty of rest and stay healthy,” Dr. Mann said, noting that viral infections are a common cause of taste and smell problems. Other causes include:

  • Nasal disease
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Head injuries
  • Neurologic disorders
  • Dental problems

At the Taste and Smell Center, patients receive a comprehensive evaluation that includes thorough smell and taste testing, general medical evaluation, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) evaluation and a neurological evaluation. In some cases, more sophisticated testing including MRI, allergy evaluation or occupational medicine evaluation, may be used.

The Taste and Smell Center includes specialists from several different Health Center departments including internal medicine, ENT, neurology and oral diagnosis, who work together to provide seamless evaluation and treatment.

Dr. Mann said treatments include medications to treat sinus conditions, polyps, or bacterial infections. In some cases, surgery may be recommended. For patients whose loss of smell follows an upper respiratory infection, there is no effective therapy. However, sensory cells may regenerate and the condition may eventually resolve, Dr. Mann added.

For more information, call 860-679-2459 or visit

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