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If your sense of smell and taste seem “off”, consider this …

During the years while I was discovering Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome, I was continuously amazed at my patients and how many different symptoms they experienced related to this disease. On the surface, many of their symptoms were not obviously correlated with thyroid problems. Some of the debilitating symptoms I saw in patients included fatigue, depression, headaches, migraines, PMS, anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, hair loss, decreased motivation and ambition, inappropriate weight gain, decreased memory and concentration, insomnia, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, decreased healing after surgery, dry skin, dry hair, fluid retention, itching, acne, bruising, heat and cold intolerance, asthma, and many other seemingly unrelated conditions.

Now and then someone would say, “It sounds like low thyroid can cause almost every symptom known to man.” And that may not be far from the truth, after all, thyroid hormone determines the function of every cell that contains DNA (every cell except red blood cells, and thyroid can even affect the production of red blood cells). Many people that read the list of symptoms see themselves right off, recognizing many of the exact symptoms that have been baffling them. Many of those were ultimately able to confirm their diagnosis by tracking their temperatures and identifying a pattern of consistent low body temperatures, and recovering from their symptoms upon normalization of those low temperatures.

It’s amazing that the thyroid can affect so many different bodily functions. It’s interesting to consider another set of symptoms which were recently identified in a clinical trial with hypothyroid patients. Some patients are found to have diminished sense of smell and taste, (also known as “dysosmia” and “dysgeusia”) and often without realizing they are having those problems. Sometimes physicians are unaware of this phenomenon, so it can be easily overlooked.

A study published last fall evaluated patients with primary hypothyroidism and measured to what degree they lost their sense of taste and smell. Using “taste strips” and “sniffing sticks”, they could precisely quantify the patients’ ability to identify smells and recognize tastes. They then conducted the same tests on a group of healthy patients and compared the results. The hypothyroid group scored significantly lower in many of the sensory tests as compared to the healthy group, especially in tasting bitter and sweet flavors. After the hypothyroid group was treated with thyroid hormone for at least 3 months and their thyroid levels normalized, both taste and smell improved!

Noticing a loss of taste and smell could help a person identify a previously-undiagnosed case of a poorly functioning thyroid. In theory, it could be like many of the other hypothyroid symptoms, in that it may occur before thyroid lab tests become abnormal- so awareness is important. Hypothyroidism isn’t the only disease which can cause these symptoms; nasal allergies, nasal polyps, diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s Disease, and malnutrition can also cause interfere with taste and smell. If you notice a loss of taste and smell, it’s worth taking some time to investigate the cause. If you also have other symptoms of low thyroid, you can follow these directions to track your body temperature to determine if you might have Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome.

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