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Can J Neurosci Nurs. 2008;30(2):10-3.

Smell and taste dysfunction following minor stroke: a case report.

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Faculty of Nursing, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.


Smell (olfactory) and taste (gustatory) are key senses in the regulation of nourishment and individual safety. Olfactory and gustatory dysfunctions have been infrequently reported together in patients following stroke (Landis et al., 2006; Leopold et al., 2006). This case report details two patients who experienced smell and taste dysfunction following minor stroke events. Symptoms reported included hyposmia (diminished sense of smell) and anosmia (complete loss of smell), and dysgeusia (distorted taste). Patients' sense of smell and taste were assessed in an ambulatory care stroke prevention clinic eight months following their strokes. Patient A presented with minor stroke due to a lesion in the anterior circulation, patient B with a lesion in the posterior circulation. Both patients reported intense olfactory and gustatory dysfunction immediately following their strokes. Examination revealed a general inability to detect subtle odours and the ability to identify only 'sweet' tastes for both patients. In addition, both patients reported heavily salting or sweetening their food to mask the distorted and unpleasant taste, which also impacted comorbid conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Patients and their spouses reported a decrease in their appreciation of family-related activities due to the patients' olfactory and gustatory dysfunction. Patients reported weight loss, lack of energy and strength, likely due to poor nutrition. Olfactory and gustatory dysfunctions are potentially deleterious outcomes following minor stroke and should be assessed by health care professionals prior to patient discharge. Assistance may be required to promote the health and well-being of patients and their carers if smell and taste are impacted by the stroke event.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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