It’s easy to take our sense of smell for granted until it’s gone. Not being able to enjoy the smell of fresh flowers blooming in your garden or enjoy the aroma when you walk into Turks Head Cafe to pick up your morning cup of coffee can put a damper on your day and significantly affect your overall quality of life.
Multiple conditions can cause your sense of smell to disappear completely (anosmia) or be significantly weakened (hyposmia).
Let’s take a look at a few common causes as well as your treatment options.
How Common is it to Lose Your Sense of Smell?
Research suggests that a good number of Americans have problems smelling. Data shows that approximately 3% of Americans have either anosmia or hyposmia. Additionally, both conditions become more common as you age.
Not being able to smell doesn’t just make things like eating and drinking less enjoyable; it can also affect appetite and potentially lead to malnutrition in the elderly.
While some cases of anosmia have no clear cause and cannot be treated, many others can regain their sense of smell.
Conditions That Affect Your Sense of Smell
- Viruses. Loss of smell was regularly talked about as a symptom of COVID-19. However, other viruses can cause the same problem, including the flu or the common cold.
- Allergies. Allergies that cause symptoms like nasal congestion can block or irritate your nose, impeding your sense of smell.
- Sinusitis. Also known as a sinus infection, sinusitis, particularly chronic sinusitis, can leave you constantly congested and affect your ability to smell.
In addition to nasal congestion, nasal obstructions like nasal polyps and tumors or nasal deformities like a deviated septum can also lead to a weakened sense of smell.
Other times, conditions or medications that affect the olfactory pathways in the brain can lead to a loss of smell. Rarely some people are born with the condition.
Treatment Options to Regain Your Smell
Many cases of anosmia or hyposmia will resolve themselves on their own, particularly if it’s due to nasal congestion from a virus. In those cases, you should regain your sense of smell as your body starts to clear the virus.
However, if your loss of smell doesn’t return after your congestion clears, you should make an appointment with your medical provider to see what else may be causing issues. Treatment options may include antihistamines or other medications if your symptoms are caused by allergies or surgery in cases where nasal polyps or another growth is causing an obstruction.
To learn more or to have your symptoms evaluated by an expert, contact Pinnacle ENT today.