Biochemical Where are the physicians who treat taste and smell dysfunction? - Dr. R.I. Henkin
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The Taste and Smell Clinic

September 2018

Where are the physicians who treat taste and smell dysfunction?

Most patients who have taste and smell dysfunctions cannot find a physician who can help them. Why not?

First, they may go to their local medical doctor. He/she may not have encountered this problem before and does not know what to do. He/she may be sympathetic and may refer the patient to an otolaryngologist.

The referral to an otolaryngologist may result in the same situation – lack of knowledge of the problems which may cause these symptoms but interest in the issue. He/she may examine the patient including a nasal endoscopy. When this procedure results in a normal examination, the physician may also be sympathetic but without a clue as to how to proceed. He/she may have read about this problem but the anatomy and physiology of the systems as stated in present day text books are out-of-date and do not contain current anatomical descriptions of the olfactory system or current physiological explanation of how these dysfunctions can occur. While sympathetic he/she may be at a loss of what to do to either evaluate or treat these problems. They may treat these symptoms with antibiotics, antihistamines or systemic carbohydrate active steroids which may seem like logical therapies but are usually ineffective or even injurious.

What field of medicine can deal with these patients? Can general physicians deal with these complex problems? Can otolaryngologists who are trained as surgeons and who deal with lesions in the head and oral region deal with these patients? Can allergists who are trained to diagnose issues that often involve the ear and the nose deal with these patients? What physician group has knowledge of current anatomical and physiological concepts to deal with these problems? Consider if there were no ophthalmologists – how would visual problems be evaluated and treated? Consider if there were no otologists – how would hearing problems be evaluated? For the many patients who have problems of taste and smell dysfunction – where are the physicians to take care of them? Which field of medicine should deal with these patients? Indeed, is there such a field?

It seems evident that a concentrated effect to educate physicians about these problems is needed and needed immediately. There are literally millions of patients with these problems but little medical help for them exists in their evaluation or treatment. What are patients to do?

There are several physician groups who may have an interest in dealing with these problems. The most logical groups are the otolaryngologists or the allergists who often come across these patients in their practice but have no tools to treat them.

We, at The Taste and Smell Clinic in Washington, DC, have attempted one solution. We have established an organization, Cyrano Therapeutics, whose mission will be to bring both diagnosis and treatment tools to physicians who have seen patients with taste and smell dysfunction but do not understand how to evaluate or treat them. We will keep you updated as this program makes progress.

For more information, see