The nose can detect up to 10,000 different scents, and contrary to popular belief, not everyone has the same sense of smell (source: Live Science).
Only five tastes exist: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, which picks up on monosodium glutamate (MSG). But how does getting older change the way we smell and taste?
MedlinePlus says that as we get older, all of our senses lose some of their power. Most people can expect their sense of smell to get worse after they turn 70.
According to Harvard Health, between the ages of 53 and 91, one in eight persons will experience a loss of scent.
Age-related smell loss can be brought on by a variety of factors. Medications and dietary deficiencies may change a person's sense of smell.
Additionally, nasal polyps, allergies, and chronic sinusitis can affect smell. Loss of receptor cells due to aging is one reason why we lose our sense of smell.
We are born with 10 million olfactory receptors, but as we age, this number declines by two-thirds. Most people lose their sense of smell before their sense of taste.
Since smell & taste are intertwined, a loss of smell might result in loss of taste. If we lose our sense of taste, we may eat less, which can have negative health consequences.
Lack of smell also impacts the sense of taste. When our nose is not functioning properly, we are unable to detect spoiled food, a fire, or a gas leak.