This survey was undertaken to investigate the nature of chemosensory dysfunction in relation to the underlying cause, severity, and course of the disease and to elucidate their clinical significance. A total of 269 patients (116 men and 149 women) with chemosensory disorders participated in the survey. Approximately 89 % had olfactory loss, either alone or in combination with taste loss and 2 % had gustatory loss alone; 7.4 % had chemosensory distortions. Dysosmia was significantly higher in those on more than four medicines per day (p < 0.02). Most patients (51.6 %) reported sudden onset of symptoms. Self-reported etiologies included: flu/infection (39.4 %), medication intake (13 %), sinusitis (12 %), operation (10.7 %), head-trauma (9.3 %), and not-specified (12.7 %). The most frequent complaint was diminished pleasure from eating followed by a decrease in general quality of life (QoL). Patients with gradual onset of symptoms or long-standing disease complained the least (p < 0.005). Of all etiologies, patients with SND complained the most (p < 0.04). Overall, 18.6 % ate more and 7.3 % ate less, 7.5 % changed their food preferences, and 19 % reported weight gain and 15.8 % weight loss. Haptic feedback was considered more important than visual appeal and acoustic feedback of food. Older patients however valued visual appeal more. When asked directly, 63 % reported having experienced household-mishaps, 58.1 % problems with social communication, 56.8 % reported having changed their sexual behavior and 35.9 % suffered depression. 60.4 % did not cope well with the changes in their lives. Women reported more problems than men, particularly relating to interpersonal communication (64.5 vs. 57.6 %) and mood (47.9 vs. 40.9 %). Women also had more frequent spontaneous recollections of smells (p < 0.02). Chemosensory disorders have a significant impact on QoL. Reduced pleasure from eating is the predominant complaint of patients seeking medical attention. The steeper the onset of symptoms, the worse the ability to cope with changes in daily life. Older patients value the visual appeal, whereas younger patients value the haptic feedback of foods.