Smell disorders are conditions that affect the ability of a person to smell. It results in a decrease, absence or even distortion in the sense of smell. People with smell disorders either don’t smell odours or perceive odours differently than other people. Since the sense of smells works closely with the sense of taste, smell orders may also make a person to believe having taste disorder as well. While the condition may sound harmless, there can be certain risks associated with sense disorders.
Sense of smell comes from specialized sensory cells found in a small patch of tissue inside the nose. These cells, called olfactory sensory neurons, connect directly to the brain. Smells reach the olfactory sensory neurons through either the nostrils or through a channel that connects the roof of the throat to the nose. Without these olfactory sensory neurons the sense of smell cannot work.
Smell disorders are usually a result of a poor development of the smell system. However the sense of smell may also gradually grow weak with age. In some cases problems like viral infection or a head injury may also trigger sense disorders.
Smell disorders are usually categorized into following types:
A sense disorder is called hyposmia if the person has a reduced ability to detect odours however there is still some sense of smell working. The affected person is able to smell odours however the sense is much weaker than normal.
During this type of smell disorder a person has completely lost the sense of smell. Anosmia is usually less common as compared to hyposmia. Problem such as an injury or infection may result in complete loss of sense of smell. In rare cases, a child may be born without a sense of smell. Such a condition is called congenital anosmia.
It is the change in the perception of odours. A person with parosmia usually perceives a familiar ordour differently. This condition may even turn a pleasant ordour into a foul one and vice versa.
It is the condition where the affected person has a false sense of smell. The person with phantosmia gets a sensation of an odour that isn’t there.
Sense of smell plays a vital role in daily life and a disorder of sense of smell may cause some problems. Like other senses, the sense of smell often serves as a first warning signal for situations such as smoke, fire and gas leak. Sense disorders may prevent a person to take early measure and may lead to even hazardous situations.
Sense of smell also affects the eating habits of a person. A person with smell disorder may also feel loss of sense of taste making the person eat less which may gradually lead to unwanted weight loss. It may also cause the person to eat more leading to weight gain.
Since smell disorders may also affect the sense of taste, food may become tasteless during smell disorders. A person with smell disorder may try to get the flavour back by adding more ingredients such as salt and sugar to food, which may cause several health problems like high blood pressure.
In other cases smell disorder can be an early sign of a bigger problem like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or multiple sclerosis. Smell disorders may also cause depression in severe cases.
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