The sense of SMELL is one of our five basic senses - apart from touch, vision, hearing and taste.

It is a higher and an aesthetic sense which, apart from helping us get the flavour out of food (Flavour is a combination of the sense of Taste and Smell) also helps us appreciate the finer things around us. It has a very strong connection with the Limbic system - because as we all know a particular smell can take us down memory lane to very specific experiences in our life.

Anosmia is described as the loss of the sense of smell.

Anosmia may be temporary or permanent depending on the cause of the problem and the extent of the lesion/ damage.

TYPES

Abnormalities in the sense of smell can be of various types - 

  • HYPOSMIA - Reduction in the sense of smell - due to lower transmission of nerve impulses.
  • ANOSMIA - Complete loss of sense of smell - due to a complete break in the transmission of nerve impulses.
  • PAROSMIA - an abnormal sense of smell - due to abnormal cross connections of the Olfactory Nerve.
  • HYPEROSMIA - an increased sense of smell, which may be because of a neurosis or sometimes as a part of a seizure disorder.

CAUSES

Smell abnormalities can be Congenital or Acquired.

Acquired Anosmia can be on account of - following trauma (Head Injury), viral infection, nasal polyps and sinusitis, tumours, or as a consequence of some medication. Metabolic disorders may sometimes be responsible. 

In more than 20 % of cases no cause can be found.

MANAGEMENT

After having tried to treat the cause - nasal Polyps, Sinusitis, Nasal mass etc there are some general methods of management.

- Intranasal Sprays- usually steroids- may sometimes help

- Systemic Steroids - in some cases, specially after a bad viral infection, in an attempt to regenerate damaged nerve endings

- Nasal Douching and Nasal Toilet -  To get rid of crusts, secretions etc

- Smell Training - usually with four different types of Essential Oils

Whatever may be the cause, remember to contact your doctor early so that appropriate treatment can be started.

In some cases, unfortunately, the loss is permanent.