Most of us take our five basic senses for granted. When was the last time you really thought about how important it is to be able to smell or taste something? Yet as too many victims of car crashes know, once you lose one or more of these senses, you’ll quickly realize just how important each sense is.
It may seem strange that you can lose something like your sense of taste or smell after a car accident. Our bodies are pretty complex, and injuring one part can often have ripple effects. This is what often occurs with brain injuries: even though a person’s head took the blow, other parts of the body are affected.
If you have lost your sense of taste or smell after a car accident, you may be entitled to damages for that specific injury. A seasoned Washington, D.C. car accident attorney can examine your medical records and advocate for a settlement or jury award that fully compensates you for your losses. Curious about how this type of injury happens? Read on to learn more.
How Brain Injuries May Lead to a Loss of Taste of Smell
An estimated 2.8 million Americans suffer brain injuries each year, caused by a number of traumatic events including motor vehicle crashes, falls, and assaults. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a medical condition that usually results from either a violent blow or jolt to the head. It may also be caused by an object that penetrates brain tissue.
A TBI may be mild or more serious. A mild brain injury may resolve in time, while a severe TBI may cause long-term complications or even death. The signs and symptoms of brain injuries vary based on the severity, and may include:
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Problems with speech
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Sensory problems, which may include blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
- Loss of consciousness for several minutes to hours
- Persistent headache or headache that worsens
- Convulsions or seizures
- Repeated nausea or vomiting
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Loss of coordination
- Profound confusion
- Agitation, combativeness, or other unusual behavior
- Slurred speech
- Coma and other disorders of consciousness
The most common causes of TBIs include falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, violence, and explosive blasts and other combat injuries.
A person who suffers a traumatic brain injury may suffer from lifelong complications, including seizures, vertigo, infections, headaches, and infections. TBIs at the base of the skull can cause damage to the cranial nerves. This may lead to a loss or altered sense of smell or taste, along with other sensory symptoms.
Traumatic brain injuries are diagnosed using a physical examination, a history of the injury, and imaging tests such as a CT scan and an MRI. An intracranial pressure monitor can also be used to monitor the pressure inside of the skull from tissue swelling.
Treatment for a TBI is based on the severity of the injury. A mild injury can be treated with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers, while a moderate to severe TBI will require immediate emergency care. In many cases, medications, surgery, and rehabilitation are necessary for a person with a TBI to survive and/or regain function.
Causes of Loss of Taste and/or Smell
According to the Taste and Smell Clinic in Washington, D.C., the loss of taste and smell is a “hidden epidemic” in the United States. Approximately 50% of all people who experience brain injuries each year will experience some dysfunction in their sense of taste and/or smell. This may include a loss of taste or smell and/or the presence of smell or taste distortions (i.e., a smelling or tasting something that doesn’t actually exist).
The loss of taste and smell are often connected. The cranial nerves that are responsible for a person’s sense of taste and sense of smell are located near each other. For this reason, a brain injury that impacts one nerve is likely to impact the other.
Loss of taste is often caused by loss of smell. This loss of smell may be caused by an injury to the brain, the olfactory nerve, the nose, nasal passages, or sinuses. The olfactory nerve brings the sensation of smell from your nose to the brain and is at high risk of injury whenever the brain suffers a trauma.
Both mild and severe brain injuries may lead to loss of taste and smell. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition.
Ageusia (loss of taste) and anosmia (loss of smell) can be devastating to sufferers. Even a change in what a person can smell or taste can have a severe impact on the quality of life and on safety. For example, if you cannot smell smoke, you may not be able to detect a fire in time to leave your house. You may also be unable to determine if food is spoiled before eating it.
A loss of taste and/or smell can lead to a change in appetite and weight loss, as well as changes in lifestyle. For many of us, eating and drinking are a core part of our social lives. Without the ability to smell or taste food and drink, our desire to socialize is drastically reduced. People whose sense of taste and smell has been lost or altered may be more prone to depression as a result.
Recovering Damages for Loss of Taste or Smell
If you have lost your sense of taste or smell after a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation if another party was responsible for the crash. Losing two of your five senses can have a devastating impact on your life. A Washington, D.C. car accident lawyer can work with you to help you get the money that you need to move forward after this type of injury.
The law firm of Patrick Malone & Associates is dedicated to helping people who have suffered a range of injuries, including the loss of taste or smell after traumatic brain injuries. We understand the challenges that our clients face, and work hard to help them get the best possible outcome for their claim. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at 202-742-1500 or contact us online.