Loss of smell (anosmia)

    • Brief

    • From the sweet smell of flowers to the yummy smell of food or the horrible smell of waste, your nose gives you information about what to welcome or avoid. You can lose this ability for some time or even permanently due to some diseases. Loss of smell can also affect your sense of taste. Losing your sense of smell should resolve on its own in most cases.

    • What are the causes?

    • There are several causes of loss of smell. You may have been born with it, or you may lose your sense of smell due to the following reasons:

      • Irritation of the inner linings of your nose. Recurrent colds, allergies, smoking or nose infections can disrupt the linings of your nose. This affects the way your nose picks up smell signals to send to your brain.
      • Nasal blockage. If your nostrils are blocked due to a tumour or bone deformity, it may prevent your nose from detecting smell signals.
      • Old age. As you grow older, your sense of smell may begin to reduce.
      • Nerve damage. Your nerves carry the smell signals from your nose to your brain. If they become damaged due to accidents, diseases like diabetes or brain injury, you may lose your sense of smell.

    • When to visit a doctor?

    • Loss of smell will usually resolve on its own after some time. However, if you notice any of the following, you need to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible:

      • If you have never been able to smell anything all your life. This may mean that you were born without the ability to smell and may indicate a hormonal problem.
      • If you lose your sense of smell for more than two weeks. Loss of smell may be your only symptom of covid19. Therefore, you need to get tested so that you do not spread the infection.
      • If you also have trouble breathing or are running a fever. This may indicate that you have an infection that requires treatment.
      • If you had a fall or an accident shortly before you lost your sense of smell.
      • If you notice that you have lost some weight unintentionally.
      • If you have a face deformity together with loss of smell.
    • How to prevent?

    • You may not be able to prevent loss of smell, but treating the underlying causes can help prevent complications like overeating, food poisoning and increased danger.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care tips

      To relieve your symptoms, these are some tips you can use:

      • Steam inhalation. Place your face over a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. This will help clear nasal congestion and make smell signals easier to pick up by your nerves.
      • Avoid triggers. If you know the things that trigger your allergies, then try to avoid them. It helps to reduce the irritation in your nostrils.
      • You can buy over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines such as piriton to relieve allergy symptoms. This helps to reduce the irritation in your nostrils.
      • Take safety precautions. You may need to have a roommate or neighbour who helps you stay safe. Your loss of smell can prevent you from identifying spoilt foods, gas leaks or fires.

      Treatment options

      Your healthcare provider will recommend treatment for loss of smell based on the cause. You may be prescribed medicines, like antibiotics if you have an infection.

      You may need to undergo surgery to correct a bone deformity or remove a tumour that may be blocking your nose. Your healthcare provider may also suggest some lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking.

      If you need it, your healthcare provider can refer you for talk therapy and counselling sessions to help you cope with your loss of smell.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Not being able to smell can affect your sense of taste taking the pleasure out of food. You may need to opt for spicier meals to make your food enjoyable. Loss of smell may also put you in dangerous situations as you are unaware of fires or gas leaks.