Our sense of taste and smell are very closely linked. Problems with either of them can have a real impact, especially on the way we eat and drink.
How can your taste and smell change after stroke?
A stroke can affect your taste in a number of different ways, so you may:
not be able to taste things as well as you did before, so flavours may not be as obvious or strong
get a salty, bad or metallic taste in your mouth
lose your sense of taste completely.
If a stroke affects your sense of smell you may:
not be able to smell things as well as you did before, so smells may not be as strong
become oversensitive to smell, so that smells become really strong
have a distorted sense of smell
lose your sense of smell completely.
Why does it happen?
Your taste and smell can change because of damage to your brain.
If the part of your brain that controls and receives information from your senses is affected by your stroke, then this can cause problems with your taste and/or smell.
Other problems can also add to these changes. Although it can be difficult to maintain good oral hygiene when you’ve had a stroke, if your teeth and mouth aren’t clean and healthy this can affect your sense of taste. A virus or infection can also have an effect on your sense of taste and smell.
Because there is so much to deal with after a stroke, it’s normal for your behaviour to change in some way.
Why does behaviour change after a stroke?
The way we behave often depends on the way we feel. So if your emotions change after stroke, then your behaviour is likely to change too.
But it’s not just about the way we feel. Sometimes a stroke can also affect the way you respond to what’s going on around you. This can make you behave differently too.
Other effects of stroke will also affect your behaviour. Tiredness can mean you’re less active or talkative, for example. Or frustration at not being able to do things for yourself can build up and make you aggressive towards others.
In what ways can behaviour change?
It’s difficult to see changes in yourself. So, if you’re acting differently your friends and family are probably going to be the ones to notice.
These are some changes that other people may notice:
you get cross or annoyed very quickly
you’re more stressed, angry or aggressive
you’ve become withdrawn and don’t talk very much
you don’t show any interest in the things you used to enjoy
you make decisions without considering what will happen afterwards
you’re less inhibited, which can make you more out spoken or seem self-centred and can also change your sexual behaviour.
People may tell you that your personality has changed or that you’ve ‘become a different person’, which can be upsetting.
However, what they’re really noticing are changes to your behaviour, not who you are as a person – a stroke can’t change this.