Have you ever experienced loss of smell or taste? One of life’s greatest pleasures is being able to take in a whiff of fresh bread or smelling a field full of wildflowers on a crisp spring morning. When one loses their sense of smell, it can cause a sense of panic and isolation. This loss could happen gradually over time, or it may be a sudden onset. It can be a temporary set back caused by conditions that irritate the mucus membranes lining the inside of your nose from a cold or allergies or it can be a condition caused by something more traumatic such as a brain tumor, head injury or old age. We don’t realize just how much we use our sense of smell until we no longer can. Our sense of smell also affects the taste of food. When one can no longer taste the food they eat, it may contribute to loss of interest in food altogether. 80% of what we taste in our food comes from our sense of smell. If you suddenly lose your sense of smell, it would be wise to seek medical attention from your doctor right away so they can diagnose your condition and determine whether there is treatment available.
What Causes Anosmia?
Your doctor will provide the most accurate diagnosis for your condition but following is a list of some of the possible causes of Anosmia;
– Upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold, sinus infections, the flu/influenza,
– Allergies or Hay Fever
– Recreational drug use such as cocaine or amphetamines
– Long-term alcohol abuse
– Underactive thyroid
– Nose abnormality such as a crooked nasal septum or blockage of the nasal passages by a tumor or nasal polyp
– Head injury or brain tumor
– Exposure to chemicals that burn the interior of the nose
– Old age.
Some people are born without a sense of smell as well, this is a genetic condition known as Congenital Anosmia.
It can be difficult to analyze someone’s loss of smell, but your doctor will assess your condition by asking you your medical history, performing a thorough physical examination and asking you about your symptoms. It is important for you to be able to provide information such as when the symptoms began, if something triggered your condition, whether or not it affects the taste of food and also whether you can’t smell at all, or if it’s just certain scents. Your doctor may need to perform additional tests such as a CT scan, MRI, Nasal endoscopy or X-Rays.
For those born with congenital anosmia, a sense of smell is something they have never experienced and will likely never experience. At this time there is no cure for congenital anosmia. For other types of anosmia, whether or not treatment is available depends on the underlying cause of the condition. For example, those with a nasal blockage or nose deformity may be able to find relief through surgery. Those with symptoms caused by swelling of the sinuses or other illness may be treated with steroids. Your doctor will be able to determine the best treatment available for your case. Some other forms of treatments for anosmia are;
-Steroid tablets or steroid nasal sprays
-Medical operation to remove nasal polyps
-Medical operation to straighten nasal septum
-Endoscopic Sinus Surgery to clear out sinuses
Anosmia Diagnosis & Treatment
For those who lose their sense of smell, some are affected by losing their ability to taste food as well. In this case, health and nutrition is a concern. Be sure to speak with your doctor about any concerns you may have and monitor any weight loss you may experience. Share these findings with your doctor. Because of the possible inability to detect dangerous fumes and smoke, ENT Specialists also strongly recommends installing or testing smoke alarms throughout your home, carefully reading warning labels on cleaners and insecticides, being sure to air out your home regularly and consider switching from natural gas appliances to electric appliances. If you would like to speak to one of our doctors about anosmia or get more information for a loved one, call our office. We’re glad to help!