EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON TASTE AND SMELL
The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of alcohol on people's perception of taste and smell. The paper begins with a brief description of the impacting factor (alcohol) and how it operates. It then goes on to discuss the affects of alcohol at the first and second levels of perception of taste and smell. The final section of the paper presents a several conclusions formulated on the basis of the reviewed literature.
Alcohol is the term used to refer to any class of organic compounds characterized by one or more hydroxyl (OH) groups attached to a carbon atom of an alkyl group (hydrocarbon chain). Because of its effects on body and behavior, people often drink beverages containing ethyl alcohol which is produced by distilling the fermented juice of fruits or grains. Following the consumption of ethyl alcohol, the alcohol goes to the stomach where it is absorbed into the bloodstream by the walls of the intestines. Factors affecting the absorption rate can include: the amount of alcohol consumed, the amount and type of food in the stomach, and the person's body weight.
Once in the bloodstream, the alcohol is metabolized, mostly by the liver. In general, the rate at which the body metabolizes alcohol is about three-fourths of an ounce to one ounce of whiskey per hour. If alcohol is consumed faster than the rate at which it is metabolized, it will have effects on the central nervous system that can lead to difficulties controlling motor responses and psychoemotional behavior.
How Alcohol Affects Olfactory Perception
In general, alcohol odor (in the form of chemicals) stimulates nerve cells upon entering the nose and getting dissolved in a membrane called the olfactory epithelium. Hair cells on the olfactory epithelium pass the signal down the nasal passage to mitral cells in the olfactory bulb which leads straight into the olfactory tract; this tract (cranial nerve I) then tra...