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Abnormalities of taste and smell after head trauma
  1. Paul J. Schechter,
  2. Robert I. Henkin1
  1. Section on Neuroendocrinology, National Heart and Lung Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20014, U.S.A.
  2. Section on Neuroendocrinology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20014, U.S.A.


    Abnormalities of taste and smell were studied in 29 patients after head trauma. These abnormalities included decreased taste acuity (hypogeusia), a distortion of taste acuity (dysgeusia), decreased smell acuity (hyposmia), and a distortion of smell acuity (dysosmia). This syndrome can occur even after minimal head trauma and can begin months after the moment of injury. The patients exhibited a significant decrease in total serum zinc concentration (patients, 77 ± 3 μg/100 ml, mean ± 1 SEM, vs controls, 99 ± 2 μg/100 ml, P>0·001) and a significant increase in total serum copper concentrations (113 ± 4 μg/100 ml vs 100 ± 2 μg/100 ml, P<0·001) compared with control subjects. Symptoms of hypogeusia, dysgeusia, and dysosmia are frequent sequelae of head injury and are important to the patients and to their care after trauma.

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    • 1 Address for correspondence: Dr Robert I. Henkin, Section on Neuroendocrinology, Experimental Therapeutics Branch, National Heart and Lung Institute, Bldg 10, Room 7N262, Bethesda, Maryland 20014, U.S.A.

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