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Sense of smell, wine at dinner

Created date

November 26th, 2013
Four wine glasses

Q. My sense of smell seems to be getting worse as I get older. Is that normal?

A. Age-related changes in the structure of your nose can cause a slightly diminished sense of smell. A moderate or profound loss of smell, however, is not normal. It might be occurring because of a temporary problem such as allergies, a cold, or polyps. Certain medications, including some antibiotics and blood pressure drugs, can also affect how well you smell. Sometimes it can be associated with a serious condition such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease.

A good sense of smell is important for a number of reasons—it helps you detect harmful odors such as smoke, harmful chemicals, and spoiled foods. If you can’t smell, your sense of taste is also diminished, so your nutrition might suffer as a result. See your doctor soon before your sense of smell gets any worse.

Q. I’ve had a glass or two of wine with dinner since I was younger, but now my husband says I slur my words after one glass. Why do I feel tipsy after so little?

A. As you age your body can become less capable of breaking down alcohol. The presence of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can also make you more sensitive to it, and many prescription and over-the-counter medicines can interact with alcoholic drinks—augmenting the effects of each. Getting a little tipsy in your later years is actually quite dangerous—it can lead to dizziness and falls. Talk to your doctor about whether alcohol is safe for you at all.

David Tuuk, M.D.

Medical Director, Crest

Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Dr. Tuuk completed his undergraduate degree in pre-med at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and obtained his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. Board certified in internal medicine, Tuuk joined Wind Crest in August 2013.