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June 24, 1974

Taste and Smell Deviations: Importance of Zinc

JAMA. 1974;228(13):1669-1670. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230380037023

At the time Henkin et al1 reported the new syndrome, idiopathic hypogeusia (diminished taste acuity) with dysgeusia (distorted taste perception), hyposmia (decreased smell acuity), and dysosmia (distorted smell perception), they recounted the findings in the first 35 patients who came for study and treatment, although at that time, the researchers had knowledge of about 3,000 patients with this disorder. Two results of that first report merit special emphasis: (1) electron microscopic examination demonstrated abnormalities of the taste buds, and (2) the hypogeusia improved with administration of zinc.

Since then, the same group of workers2 at the National Heart and Lung Institute have enlarged their experience to include more than 4,000 patients with the syndrome and have reported details in 103 patients. There were 48 men and 55 women whose ages ranged from 25 to 81 years (mean age, 55 years), and the duration of symptoms before patients were