What Is Anosmia? Know Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More

Do you lose your sense of smell during cold and flu? This condition is called Anosmia. Know all about anosmia in this article.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Jun 02, 2020
What Is Anosmia? Know Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More

Have you ever felt that you have lost your sense of smell for some time? It is called Anosmia in the medical dictionary. This is a health condition where the person suffers temporary or permanent smell loss. As per the data, one in 10,000 people, is born with this condition, also called congenital anosmia where they are born with no sense of smell. Almost all of us suffer from this condition at some point where our nose couldn’t smell anything due to congested nostrils. While this is for time-being, congenital anosmia is a life-long issue. 

What Is Anosmia- The Medical Definition

The sense of smell is one of the five senses of a human body. It is indeed an important sense as it helps us identify and differentiate things on the basis of how they smell. Imagine a person without this sense, for him, fragrance and odour are the same. There are three types of Anosmia:

Temporary: Temporary anosmia is common as it is caused due to a congested nasal pathway that we go through during cold, flu, sinus, etc. You can use a homemade herbal decongestant to get relief.

Permanent: This anosmia causes permanent smell loss due to various reasons such as accident, advancing age, etc.

Congenital: This anosmia happens in one out of 10,000 adults where they are born with this condition.

Anosmia Causes and Risk Factors

Here are some common causes of anosmia:

  • Blockage in the nasal passage
  • Swollen nasal passages
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cold, flu or sinusitis
  • Influenza
  • Congestion due to allergic or non-allergic rhinitis
  • Toxic or chemical fumes ingestion

The above-mentioned are common causes of anosmia. Here are some risk factors that may trigger anosmia.

Also Read: These 3 Massage Techniques Can Effectively Relieve Sinus Pain

People living with these medical conditions are at greater risk of developing anosmia.

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Brain tumors
  • Schizophrenia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy

Other anosmia-causing factors

  • Increasing age
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Long exposure to chemicals or toxic elements
  • Heavy medications
  • Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco or nicotine abuse
  • Malnutrition

Anosmia Symptoms

The main symptom of anosmia is the loss of smell since this condition is all about smell loss. Whenever you suffer from such a condition, it is important that you find the root cause first. In most cases, anosmia occurs when the person has a cold or flu or sinusitis. In such a case, the problem would subside as you recover. This is temporary.

If you don’t have a cold or flu but you are unable to smell anything, check the aforesaid causes and identify if you have any of them. If the condition persists for several days, visit a doctor and get yourself tested. He will conduct certain tests like:

  • Smell ID test
  • Nasal endoscopy
  • MRI and CT scan of the brain to look for any blockage

How to Treat Anosmia?

Anosmia treatment depends upon the root cause of the condition. If it is due to cold or sinusitis, the doctor would give you medicines to relieve the problem. You can also take nasal sprays to open blocked nasal passages. Try a homemade decongestant to get relief in cold and also anosmia. If this is due to any serious condition as identified by the doctor, you may need to undergo treatment.

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