Have you experienced an uncomfortable sensation where it is difficult for you to decipher odors? Then it may be because you are suffering from anosmia and need immediate attention.
Anosmia is a condition where one’s sense of smell (olfactory) is defunct, that is, absent. It can either be temporary or permanent with the probability of taste buds being affected, as well. It can be a difficult impairment to live with; one should be sure that it isn’t something like a cold or flu that’s hampering one’s sense of smell.
Identifying the symptoms first and paying attention to how long it continues is the first step to determine whether you suffer from the condition or not. This includes a prolonged period of not being able to smell odors. Try smelling different items like food or everyday products and see whether you can differentiate between them.
The causes are not easy to detect at first, but as you notice key elements in the way you breathe and how your taste buds function, you’ll be able to gage whether you are likely to have this problem or not. The olfactory epithelium corresponds to an area inside the nose that intercepts smells, passing these signals to the brain. If the space of the olfactory epithelium is great, the higher the sense of smell due to the presence of more neurons.
Any obstruction leading to a block in air intake restricts the brain from receiving these signals through the olfactory epithelium, thus causing one to lose the ability to smell. The olfactory epithelium in such cases may be damaged, or the passages that transmit smell impulses may be impaired, causing olfactory receptor cells to cut off signals to the brain.
A congestion that restrains air flow through the nose can cause an obstruction in the nasal cavity. There can also be nasal bone deformities or the case of a deviated septum―an abnormal displacement of any wall that separates two chambers. In children, a blockage by a foreign body in the nasal passages can occur frequently; have these checked out to be sure that nothing is blocking the airway. If these occurrences happen frequently in a year, check with your doctor if you or your child have an allergic reaction to something such as pollen.
These are fleshy swellings that sprout inside the nose. They be may be gray, yellow, or pink in color. There is nothing to panic about, as these aren’t malignant. These can vary in size and sometimes grow like cherry clusters on a stem. You may feel a blocked sensation in the nose and also find it difficult to breathe, often using your mouth instead for air intake. Make a note if this is problematic in the nights and if it disturbs your sleep pattern, as it may result in what is known as sleep apnea.
The nose may also tend to water, which is a common symptom of nasal polyps. Sensations like post nasal dripᡅthe feeling of something constantly running down the back of your throat mainly caused due to mucus formed at the back of the nose as a result of large polyps―is common.
A damaged olfactory epithelium can occur due to any of the following:
- Nerve or brain tumor.
- Occupations that deal with inhaling toxic gas or smoke. Chemical toxins that can be inhaled include sulfuric acid, cadmium, magnesium, lead, and other dangerous inhalants.
- Usage of decongestants may cause damage, as well.
- As one gets older, complete loss of smell and taste as one ages is evident and possible.
- Radiation can cause sufficient damage.
- A change in the way your voice sounds.
- Sense of smell and taste is not strong and distinguishable.
- Headaches and snoring.
- Polyps may be blocking your draining channel meant for the sinuses, into the nose. This can most commonly lead to sinusitis.
- The face and ears tend to enlarge which is uncommon.
- Double vision is highly improbable, but can take place nonetheless, due to huge polyps applying pressure on the nerves that need to send signals to the brain from the eyes.
- Patients who have undergone Tracheostomy―a surgical procedure that creates an opening into the trachea where a tube is inserted to provide a passage for air―are more prone to suffer from loss of smell.
- Check for a history of head trauma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. It is important to know your genetic history before you diagnose yourself or others in cases such as these.
- A zinc deficiency is also a factor in determining whether one is suffering from this condition.
Skim through the following table and associate the relevant diagnostic to your condition and accordingly have it checked out.
|Hyposmia||The sensation of smell is vague and indistinct. One may have a partial ability to smell, although sometimes it may be hard to detect odors.|
|Hyperosmia||Sense of smell is heightened where some people have a natural way of smelling odors that are vague to others, but very strong to them. Sensitivity levels are very high in these cases.|
|Dysosmia||Smells are distorted and are impaired to a point of complete loss of smell. Stimuli doesn’t activate olfactory bulb.|
|Parosmia/Troposmia||In this case normal/pleasant smells are mistaken for acrid odors.|
|Phantosmia||The presence of a non-existent smell causes one to think it is present when in fact hallucinatory.|
|Presbyosmia||Decrease in the sense of smell as one grows older. Age is a major factor.|
|Cacosmia||Sensing odors that are foul or vile. These are non-existent in nature but pertain to bad smells.|
- University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT)
- Connecticut Chemosensory Clinical Research (also known as the scratch and sniff test)
- Transillumination: A method to visualize the front and maxillary sinuses. In a darkened room, a physician shines a bright light against the patient’s forehead or cheek. If the sinuses are clear, the physician will observe the glows in the areas of the cheek or the hard palate of the mouth to locate the sinus passages. It is an inexpensive method and is highly useful to rule out problems related to this condition.
- Olfactory Function Testing: Administered using Butanol for an odor detection test, including the seven identification test. Different odors including wintergreen, Vicks, and ammonia are used. It is important to note that different odors may be used in different places as odor testing substances. The rating on the diagnostic may vary depending on your condition.