The Loss of Smell

loss of smell

The world is full of smells, both good and bad. Sure, the paper mill may omit a questionable sulfur smell but that is counteracted by the freshly baked bread from your local La Jolla bakery. Most of us would not be too devastated if we could suddenly no longer smell our gym bag but would you trade that to never smell a rose? Probably not. For those with anosmia, they do not have a choice.

To quote a young, quirky doctor from one of the many many television shows about hospital employees “You know, I always thought it was very funny that losing your sense of smell was called ‘anosmia.’ ‘A-nos-mia’, you know, like ‘schnoz-mia.’” Don’t you find that very funny?

What is Anosmia

As Dr. John Dorian (J.D.) explained, anosmia is the medical term for the loss of smell. It can have varying degrees of severity and the loss can be partial or complete and either temporary or permanent. The degree of loss is based entirely on the cause.

First things first, if you experience a sudden loss of smell, visit a real La Jolla ear, nose and throat doctor. The only way to treat this condition is to determine the cause.

Anosmia can be caused by irritation, obstruction or nerve damage. A common cold, a sinus infection or even the flu can cause an irritation of the mucous membranes inside the nose. This is the most common cause of loss of smell. A nasal polyp, a bony deformity or a tumor can cause an obstruction that physically blocks the flow of air through the nasal passage. Damage to the olfactory system (receptors and nerves responsible for your sense of smell) as well as aging, malnutrition, certain medication and multiple disorders (Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease to name a few) can cause damage to the olfactory system.

What to do About the Loss of Smell

Once the cause has been determined, your La Jolla ENT specialist can determine the correct treatment. If your loss of smell is caused by a cold or allergies, it will most likely return on its own. If your sense of smell has not returned after a few days this may be a sign of a more serious condition. You may need antibiotics to treat an infection or a small surgery to remove an obstruction. Sometimes, the loss of smell is permanent and cannot be restored.