If Things Taste Bad, ‘Phantoms’ May Be at Work

If Things Taste Bad, 'Phantoms' May Be at Work

You already love Spotify, but do you know how to get the most out of it? Most of us have experienced tinnitus or sounds in the … Look what you can do to prevent tinnitus or keep it from getting worse. You can see the full results at the bottom of this page. Click here to learn all the Spotify Tips and Tricks you never knew existed. Of seven patients involved in the preliminary study, three have responded well to the therapy. In Dr.

Bartoshuk’s lab, Dr. Fowler’s cranial nerves were tested for taste and for pain, his tongue was painted with blue food coloring and videotaped in action, his ability to smell turpentine, coffee and other odors was tested, and a thorough examination was conducted of his mouth, including the fungiform pappilae, the structures that house taste buds, on his tongue. Now this can occur for a simple cause like wax getting accumulated in the ear and infection in the external skin and eardrum, an infection of fluid accumulation in … Bartoshuk delivered her diagnosis: the burning sensations and mysterious tastes, she told him, were sensory phantoms, his brain’s response to damage to the chorda tympani, a branch of the VII cranial nerve that serves taste buds in the front of the tongue, runs through the middle ear, and carries taste messages to the brain. (3) This is a symptom that should never be ignored, whatever the cause. In over . Fowler was taking, or a viral infection.

And a few months later his sense of taste did return to normal. The most familiar example of phantom sensation is phantom limb syndrome, in which a patient continues to feel pain in an arm or leg long after the limb has been amputated. But phantoms can occur in any of the senses. Here are some more compilation of topics and latest discussions relates to this video, which … People who have lost much of their vision often experience visual phantoms. Twenty-two percent of the people in our survey reported that they had nausea and /or vomiting as a symptom. When the composer George Gershwin reported experiencing, among other complaints, a persistent smell of burning rubber, for example, he was told by doctors that he had a nervous affliction.

Gershwin died a few years later of a brain tumor. In recent years, however, a surge of scientific interest in the mechanisms of human taste and olfaction has focused new attention on the ways in which these senses can become disordered, and as a result, phantoms of taste and smell are receiving greater scrutiny. Though there are no precise numbers, scientists estimate that such phantom sensations afflict 1 percent or more of the population. Dr. although these can be extremely … Because taste and smell are so closely linked, it is sometimes difficult to tell which system is in trouble. Sixteen percent reported strange feelings in the head, and 9% reported strange feelings in the hands.

But taste and smell phantoms, Dr. Bartoshuk said, usually can be distinguished by their quality. Bitter, salty, sweet, or sour phantoms — corresponding to four basic categories the tongue can distinguish — are always related to disorders of taste. Smell phantoms, in contrast, are usually more complex in nature: patients may complain of tasting or smelling rotting food, for example, fecal matter, gasoline or smoke. Like Dr. Fowler, some patients who have taste phantoms also suffer from ”burning mouth syndrome,” an intense burning sensation on the tongue, often at its tip. When Dr.
If Things Taste Bad, 'Phantoms' May Be at Work

Keep in mind that brain tumors are relatively rare compared to most other disorders, so the primary care doctor is not usually going to be thinking it is a brain tumor. Fowler, she discovered that he was a ”supertaster,” someone who has an unusually large density of taste buds, each surrounded by pain fibers. Supertasters, Dr. Bartoshuk has found, are more likely to develop burning mouth syndrome, as are post-menopausal women, who often have lost their ability to sense bitter tastes. The link between burning mouth syndrome and taste phantoms led Dr. Bartoshuk to theorize that both were the result of damage to the chorda tympani, one of three cranial nerves involved in taste. Scientists have found that the taste system involves a complicated feedback loop, with each nerve acting to inhibit the signals of other nerves.

The chorda tympani, in particular, appears to exert an inhibitory influence on other taste nerves, as well as on pain fibers in the tongue. When the chorda tympani is damaged, its inhibitory function is disrupted, prompting increased activity in other nerves. In an elegant series of experiments, Dr. Bartoshuk and Dr. John Kveton, an otological surgeon at Yale, have found that when the chorda tympani is anesthetized, research subjects experience intensified sensation in areas served by other taste nerves. In about 40 percent of the subjects, anesthetizing the chorda tympani produced taste phantoms, the result, Dr. Bartoshuk argues, of the disinhibition.

In other work, to be presented at the chemoreception sciences meeting, the psychologist and her colleagues showed that when the chorda tympani is anesthetized, pain sensitivity increases in regions served by the trigeminal nerve on the opposite side of the tongue. Supertasters, who have a denser field of pain fibers, had the greatest increase in pain sensation. In another study, the researchers found that patients with burning mouth syndrome showed severe damage to the chorda tympani, suggesting pain phantoms may appear when the chorda tympani’s inhibiting influence is interrupted. ”All of a sudden, the genie is out of the bottle,” Dr. Bartoshuk said. The taste system’s feedback loop, she said, may make evolutionary sense, insuring, for example, that if one nerve is damaged the others increase their activity to compensate. This is seen most clearly in patients whose chorda tympani nerve has been damaged by ear surgery.

Such patients, doctors find, rarely complain of taste loss. Clonazepam, an anti-seizure drug, seems effective in treating burning mouth syndrome in more than 70 percent of patients, Dr. Bartoshuk said, perhaps because it has an inhibitory action on the brain. While virtually every taste phantom, she said, can be traced to nerve damage somewhere in the taste system, smell phantoms are much more difficult to account for. Many are clearly related to a head injury or a viral illness. But occasionally, olfactory phantoms appear spontaneously, with no identifiable cause. Dr.

Donald Leopold, an associate professor in the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University, says he has performed surgeries on nine patients who sought his help after being plagued by spontaneous smell phantoms that persisted for years. When, three years ago, Ms. Blandford, who is now 29 and a radio announcer in Charleston, S.C., reached the point that she had stopped eating altogether, she called Dr. Leopold, and underwent surgery shortly thereafter. By anesthetizing each side of her nose in turn and testing her sense of smell, Dr. Leopold determined that the problem was one-sided. In the surgery, he excised the olfactory epithelium high in the nose on the affected side, cutting the small nerves that pass up through the bony plate.

In every case, he said, his patients say that the smell phantom either disappeared or subsided to a tolerable level, although some patients underwent more than one surgery. Ms. Blandford said her smell phantom returned in much milder form two years after the surgery. Given a choice of another operation or living with the phantom’s remnants, however, she opted for the latter. ”It’s a little like having a low-grade headache all the time,” she said.