Anosmia, also known as smell blindness, is the partial or complete loss of the sense of smell. This loss may be temporary or permanent. Temporary anosmia can affect people of all ages. But a long-lasting loss of sense of smell is more common among adults over the age of 50.
Your nose and an area in the upper throat have special cells that contain odor receptors. When these receptors detect smells, they send a message to the brain. The brain then identifies the specific smell.
Any problem in this process — a stuffy nose, a blockage, inflammation, nerve damage or a brain function condition — can affect your ability to smell normally.
The obvious sign of anosmia is a loss of smell. Some people with anosmia notice a change in the way things smell. For example, familiar things begin to lack odor.
Nasal congestion from a cold, allergy, sinus infection, or poor air quality is the most common cause of anosmia. Other anosmia causes include:
• Nasal polyps — small noncancerous growths in the nose and sinuses that block the nasal passage.
• Injury to the nose and smell nerves from surgery or head trauma.
• Exposure to toxic chemicals, such as pesticides or solvents.
• Certain medications, including antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory medication, heart medications, and others.
• Cocaine abuse.
• Old age. Like vision and hearing, your sense of smell can become weaker as you age. In fact, one’s sense of smell is most keen between the ages of 30 and 60 and begins to decline after age 60.
• Certain medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Covid-19, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, nutritional deficiencies, congenital conditions, and hormonal disturbances.
• Radiation treatment of head and neck cancers.
• People with anosmia may lose interest in food and eating, leading to malnutrition and weight loss.
• Anosmia can also lead to depression because it may impair one’s ability to smell or taste pleasurable foods.
Anosmia is usually diagnosed by an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT). They’ll ask you about your symptoms, examine your nose and run tests to determine the extent of your loss of smell. In some cases, a CT (computed tomography) scan may be necessary to help your provider see what’s going on inside your body.
Your physician will examine you to determine the cause of your smell disturbance. Because anosmia can result from any number of conditions, your doctor will first address the primary condition that seems to be causing the problem.
For example, if you have allergic sinusitis, treating it with short-term use of over-the-counter decongestants may open up your nasal passages so that you can breathe easier and help restore the olfactory sense. If nasal tumors, nasal polyps or nasal deformities require surgery, that may be the first step. In other cases, anosmia can be an early symptom of a disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
However, it’s important to know that sometimes the cause of smell disorder can’t be determined for certain. And sometimes anosmia cannot be treated.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
Ayurveda usually defines ‘Anosmia’ as ‘Ghrana Nasa’ where ‘Ghrana’ means ‘smell’ and ‘nasa’ means ‘loss of sensation’, and usually this condition occurs due to imbalance in the hormones, because of unhealthy food and lifestyle habits, ultimately leading to aggravation of the vata doshas in the body and at the site of action.
The holistic treatment of Ayurveda suggests three different procedures to provide relief from anosmia which are –
It refers to the administration of the ayurvedic oil or liquid as a nasal drop through the nasal passage.
A process where herbs are used to instigate the body to vomit as a way to clear out phlegm deposits from nasal and oral routes.
In this therapy, the patient is asked to inhale the herbal smoke to induce coughing and throwing up the mucus from the nasal or oral passages.
Effective Remedies To Treat Loss of Smell
Crush 4-5 garlic cloves and add them to a cup of boiling water. Boil for two minutes, add a pinch of salt. Drink the mixture while it is still hot, twice a day to restore the sense of smell.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon in a glass of warm water and add a teaspoon of honey and drink this lemon tea twice a day to get relief from throat and nasal congestion.
• Castor Oil
Go for the nasya treatment by instilling a drop of warm castor oil in the nostrils. Practice this twice a day in the morning and at night before sleeping to get faster efficacy.
• Mint Leaves
Boil 10-15 mint leaves in a cup of water. Strain and drink the mixture after infusing it with a spoon of honey to open a blocked nose and restore the sense of smell.
You can take ginger by brewing it into tea or simply chewing a small piece of it to enhance your sense of smell.
Because anosmia is a symptom of many health-related conditions, it can’t always be prevented. However, there are certain things you can do to reduce your risk:
• Avoid toxic chemicals and environments.
• Don’t smoke.
• Wear protective gear when playing contact sports, since anosmia can be caused by brain injuries
People with anosmia should make sure to have functioning smoke alarms in their homes at all times. They should also be cautious with food storage and the use of natural gas because they may have trouble detecting spoiled foods and gas leaks.
Recommended precautions include:
• properly labeling foods with expiration dates
• reading labels on chemicals like kitchen cleaners and insecticides
• using electric appliances
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