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Effects of ageing on smell and taste
  1. J M Boyce,
  2. G R Shone
  1. Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff
  1. Correspondence to:
 MrJ M Boyce
 10 Sindercombe Close, Pontprennau, Cardiff, South Wales, UK; jamiemboyce{at}


Disorders of taste and smell commonly present diagnostic dilemmas to the medical profession. This may be secondary to the lack of knowledge and understanding of these conditions. There seems to be a low level of interest in the disorders, when compared with disruption of the other senses such as sight and hearing. Nevertheless, impairment of these senses are common and may be life threatening, especially when they involve the elderly patient. The aetiology of the conditions is widespread, and extend beyond the content of this article. This article will relate only to how the ageing process may contribute to sensory dysfunction. It will focus on how the ageing process changes the normal anatomy and physiology of the senses, how this effects the person’s quality of life, and the current management of these conditions.

  • aged
  • olfaction disorders
  • taste disorders

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  • This article is part of a series on ageing edited by Professor Chris Bulpitt.

  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.