Anosmia Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, and Cure



Anosmia-affects-appetiteAnosmia, or loss of smell, is a frustrating condition that affects up to 20 percent of people in the U.S. Besides affecting smell itself, anosmia can also:

  • Reduce the sense of taste
  • Lead to lower interest in food
  • Cause unplanned weight loss
  • Decrease quality of life
  • Be linked to the development of certain neurologic diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases

Of all cases, about 50 percent can be fully treated and reversed, but it’s critical to get to the root of the problem first.


Common causes of Anosmia include:

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Sinus inflammation/obstruction
  • Viral infection
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Head trauma
  • Cold, flu or allergies (but these anosmia cases are usually temporary)

More rare causes include:

  • Nutrient deficiencies (Vitamin A, B6, B12 or trace metals)
  • Use of certain medications
  • Exposure to certain heavy metals
  • Toxic exposure to paint solvents, ethyl acetate, benzene and other potential hazards
  • Cocaine use


Anosmia-loss-of-smellWith the proper treatment, some cases of anosmia will simply go away. For other cases, treatment can help minimize symptoms.

These treatments can help Anosmia caused by a nasal obstruction:

  • Oral steroids (a short-term regimen)
  • Decongestants and antihistamines
  • Steroidal nasal spray
  • Sinus surgery

More progressive treatments, such as smell therapy, have also led to progress in scientific studies.


The first step in treating anosmia is diagnosing it. Tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Total or partial loss of smell (sudden or gradual)
  • Warped sense of smell/taste
  • Inability to detect sweet, sour, salty or bitter flavors

Besides losing a sharp sense of smell and taste, people with anosmia may also notice:

  • Trouble breathing through the nose
  • Runny nose
  • Burning mouth or tongue
  • Dry mouth or eyes
  • Migraines
  • Recurring yeast infections

You can submit our Anosmia Questionnaire here, or make an appointment if you’d like an evaluation. At a personal consultation, we can:

  • Collect important information about your health history
  • Examine your nose and sinus passages
  • Give a special scratch and sniff test to check for symptoms
  • Recommend imaging (such as a CT scan or an MRI) or nasal endoscopy to examine further, if needed


Don’t ignore anosmia as just a “minor inconvenience.” We’re here to help when you need it.
Learn more from this comprehensive Anosmia presentation prepared by Dr. Robert Pincus: Olfaction 2016 – Anosmia Stinks