For Women Over 60: How Well Can You Smell?

Hypersensitivities Are Real

Can you smell things no one else can smell, taste things no one else can taste? If you can, you may have a wonderful condition called hyperosmia. Hyperosmia is the medical term for an extremely good sense of smell.

Doctors don’t know much about the sense of taste. But they do know that the sense of smell is a large component of it. If you have hyperosmia, you’re going to have an acute sense of taste as well. If you lose your sense of smell, you lose most of your sense of taste. The taste buds on your tongue can only detect salt, and sour, sweet, and bitter tastes. Your sense of smell detects all the other tastes. Your sense of smell also detects flavors.

Old ladies like me, who have many hypersensitivities, often have hyperosmia as well. Do you yourself have many hypersensitivities? Or do you only have normal sensitivities? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Here’s a chart that may help you:

Sensitivities (usual and expected)
Hypersensitivities (very rare)

Allergy pollen makes you sneeze
Allergy pollen causes a scary rash
Wool makes you itch on a hot day
You can’t wear sweaters at all
You get carsick with bad drivers
You get carsick with good drivers

Here’s a chart that may help you with the difference between hyperosmia and hypersensitivities:


You can detect additives in processed food because they taste funny to you.
After you eat processed food with additives, you often get sick to your stomach.
Apples that are not fresh taste funny to you.
Apples that are fresh make you sick to your stomach. You have to cook them or get sick.
You can actually smell watermelon, even from a distance.
Eating watermelon gives you a scratchy feeling in your throat.

If you’re not sure if you have hypersensitivities at all, just take the Hypersensitivity Quiz.

Dr. Jean M. Bradt
Ph.D., Psychology, Loyola University of Chicago, 1988