Steven Munger gestures to a bowl of noses.
“Take one,” he offers, catching a visitor staring. “It’s what they’re there for.”
The foam noses bear the logo of the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste, which Munger directs. With UF Health, the university’s academic health center, the Center for Smell and Taste is launching one of the country’s only clinical programs for people with smell disorders, a problem that sounds insignificant until you’ve lived with it.
About 15 percent of the population has a diminished or distorted sense of smell. More than 16 million Americans live with a smell impairment severe enough to affect their eating habits, their relationships, even their safety. Yet these disorders remain underdiagnosed, little researched, and largely incurable.
With 53 researchers lending expertise to the center, and the UF Health Smell Disorders Program opening January 25, Munger and his colleagues want to change that. But no one knows if people will come to a practice where, for most patients, the only immediate offerings are support and hope.