The sense of smell varies with age as well as allergic noses, sinus conditions, environment, and what you just ate. But, yes, older people do not have as acute a sense of smell; however, the smell sense is one of your 12 major cranial nerves. You don't lose it, it may not be as intense or discriminatory as before. Smell is also education. In other words, if you smell bergamot in Earl Gray tea it is because you can identify that smell by drinking the tea. Great project.
Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics
This question brings back really sweet memories for me. I remember when my son started eating solid food at around the age of nine months, one day I fed him porridge and eggs. He had never had eggs before but totally refused the food. My son ate everything up to this point. So I thought that maybe the porridge or eggs are spoiled. I smelled the bowl and realized how strong the smell of eggs was. It wasn’t spoiled but the smell was really strong. I’ve never realized that eggs have such a strong smell.
Infants’ smell is so much more sensitive than adults. And yes, as we age, we definitely lose some sensitivity of our smell sense.