Hyposmia is when a person loses part or all of their sense of smell. It can be disconcerting for an individual, but it can also have more serious implications.
Smell is one of our most basic, important senses, and has meaning in our lives when it comes to enjoying a new sensation, remembering past experiences.
Olfactory information also plays a crucial role in keeping a person physically safe. A loss of sense of smell can increase the risk of not noticing warning signs, such as the smell of gas, fire, or spoiled food. It can also indicate a more serious condition that needs medical attention.
Symptoms of hyposmia may be noticed gradually or suddenly, and include –
• Decreased or absent sense of smell
• Decreased sense of taste (flavor is the combination of taste and smell)
• Nasal blockage or congestion
• Nasal inflammation
• Respiratory infection
Losing the ability to smell can often be accompanied by symptoms of chronic sinusitis, which may include frequent infections, facial pressure and pain, nasal obstruction, and drainage. Decreased sense of smell should not be painful or uncomfortable.
Some people are born with this disorder, but the most common cause of hyposmia is nasal blockage.
Other causes include:
• Infections such as flu or cold.
• Chronic sinus problems
• A head injury
• Nasal polyps (small growths in the nose)
• A deviated nasal septum
• Dental problems
• Hormonal imbalance
• Exposure to some chemicals
• Recreational drugs, such as cocaine
• Radiation treatment for head and neck cancer
The following medications can also cause loss of smell –
• Antibiotics such as ampicillin and tetracycline
• Some antidepressants such as amitriptyline
• Antihistamines such as fluticasone and prednisone
If a person starts to lose their ability to smell for no apparent reason, they should seek medical help, especially if the change is sudden and severe.
A doctor will carry out a physical examination. They will check the nasal passages, sinuses, and surrounding structures.
A doctor will be looking for signs of swelling, bleeding, pus, growths that could indicate polyps or a tumor, blockages, enlarged nasal structures, a deviated nasal septum
If these tests do not reveal a cause, the doctor may recommend an MRI scan to assess the areas in the brain that detect smells.
A scratch-and-sniff test or tests with “Sniffin’ Sticks” can help a doctor determine whether someone has anosmia or hyposmia
After a formal diagnosis and identification of the cause, your ENT specialist may treat nasal inflammation using oral medications to reduce inflammation, recommending antibiotics, or performing surgery inside the nose.
If a polyp is present, surgery may be considered to remove the blockage and return your sense of smell. Other treatments for both temporary and permanent loss of smell may include –
• Quitting smoking
• Correcting the underlying medical condition
• Change of medications contributing to the disorder
• Surgical removal of obstructions causing the disorde
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