The medical term used to define the loss of smell is anosmia. In this condition, a person loses his or her natural ability to perceive the sense of smell. It occurs when the nasal mucosa present in the nasal cavity swells up and prevents the odor from reaching up to the roof of the nose. Usually, it is a temporary issue and is caused due to some minor problems. It is only in some rare cases, that the underlying health condition could be something serious that impairs the sense of smell for a longer duration. The key factors that can lead to anosmia are as follows.
- Common cold
- Allergic reaction
- Sinus infection
- Exposure to harmful chemicals
- Formation of nasal polyps
- Side effects of drugs
- Neurological disorders
- Head injury
Treatment for Different Causes to Cure the Loss of Smell
There is no such medicine that can restore the smelling sensation. Its underlying cause has to be treated properly in order to get rid of the problem. For this reason, here, we are discussing the treatment options according to different causes of anosmia.
When you are badly infected by cold, your nasal passage is blocked and the sense of smell is lost for a few days. Once the infection subsides, things will get back to normal. For the time being, you can get some relief from nasal congestion by taking a warm bath. Sweating also opens up the blockage inside the nasal cavity. So, do some light exercises to reduce the stuffy feeling in the nose. Most importantly, a good amount of rest with an undisturbed sleep at night is essential as it helps the immune system fight off the infection.
Those who are prone to seasonal allergies face this problem at the same time every year. The allergen that triggers this reaction is identified with the help of an allergy test. After that, doctors prescribe medicines like antihistamines, decongestants, steroid nasal sprays, and sometimes, vitamin A injections; to control the allergy symptoms. They recommend saline nose washes to clear up the nasal passage. They are also advised to avoid exposure to the specific allergen.
A sinus infection is usually caused by bacteria and stuffiness is felt in the nose due to accumulation of mucus. In this condition, the infection is treated with antibiotics. Decongestants are used to get rid of the stuffy nose. If required, doctors may also prescribe antihistamines. A chronic sinus infection that turns serious may require surgical treatment where the sinus cavities are enlarged to ensure proper drainage of the mucus.
One may lose the sense of smell after overexposure to dust and smoke. It can also happen because of excessive tobacco smoking. When these harmful substances are inhaled, the nasal passage gets irritated and inflammation occur in the nasal mucosa. Here, the treatment involves removal of the irritants from the nasal cavity using saline nose washes. Those who smoke should quit the habit in order to regain their sense of smell. Nonsmokers should not go near a person who is smoking. They should also use a mask to protect themselves from pollutants.
This can happen mainly due to the growth of nasal polyps or tumors. The treatment of polyp depends on its size. If it is small, then steroids or other sinusitis medication can reduce the inflammation in sinus lining and cure the loss of smell. If both the size and number of the polyps are large, then they are removed by means of surgery. Small tumors are mostly removed by simple surgical procedures but those which are malignant are treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Anosmia can be a side effect of the medicine that you are taking for the treatment of some other health problems. In that case, consult your doctor who will either change or discontinue the medicine. When the problem is related to aging, head injury, Alzheimer's disease, or other such complications; suitable treatment should be given to bring about improvement in that particular condition.
No matter what the cause is, the problem of your loss of smell can be cured successfully. If you are bothered by this annoying symptom for just a few days, then you do not require any medical treatment. However, when it continues for a week or more, you should visit your doctor. It is advisable not to take any over the counter medicines on your own without consulting any doctor.