Whether it’s being stuck on the subway next to a person with less than stellar hygiene habits, or feeling the pinch of a headache that resulted from someone’s overenthusiastic use of cologne, we’ve all had moments when we’ve cursed our sense of smell. While getting a whiff of a foul smelling odor is never pleasant, your ability to smell may be more important than you think. Anosmia is the loss of the sense of smell. It can be a problem by itself or a symptom of another health problem. It can last a short time, such as when you have a stuffy nose from a cold, or it can be permanent.
There are some medical conditions that cause anosmia or affect the sense of smell. Anosmia can be caused by sinus infections or other infections that affect the nose. This can cause a temporary loss of smell, or in severe cases, can cause permanent damage. Trauma to the head or nose can affect the sense of smell, especially if damage is caused to the frontal lobe, where smells are processed. Dental work can damage olfactory nerves. Use of nasal spray, especially that containing zinc, has been linked to loss of smell. Exposure to other chemicals or irritants such as cigarette smoke can damage the sense of smell. The sense of smell can also decrease and be completely lost as one ages.
The sense of smell is also closely tied to the sense of taste. If you can’t smell the aroma of food, you will likely have trouble tasting food. Anosmia can affect your mood. It can make you feel sad or depressed, because the aromas of food, flowers, and other things add to the joy of life. Lack of a sense of smell also can be dangerous. For example, you wouldn’t be able to smell a gas leak or smoke from a fire.
If your loss of smell and taste is due to congestion or a blocked nose, try waiting a couple of days till this cold has cleared up and your nasal passages are open. The minute one stops smoking, the damage to the nasal passages begins to repair itself, helping treat any loss of smell caused by smoking. If your loss of smell is not due to a cold or infection and has persisted for a long period of time, contact our office and we’ll get you the help you need.