What is Anosmia?

AnosmiaIn general, anosmia is referred to as loss of smell. This condition can be complete or partial. Rarely, one may experience complete loss of smell. This condition can be permanent or temporary based on the underlying cause.

Though anosmia can sometimes be a sign of a severe health condition, it is not essentially a serious condition itself. However, an intact sense of smell is must to taste foods fully. This condition might result in loss of interest in eating, that results in weight loss, depression or malnutrition.

Causes of Anosmia:
Usually common cold is the primary cause for temporary and partial loss of smell. This clears on its own. An obstruction in nasal passage, like polyps can lead to partial anosmia. Brain tumor or aging can cause permanent and complete loss of smell. Following are some of the causes of anosmia:

    • Problems with inner lining of nose:

      This condition may be caused by permanent or temporary irritation, or due to the damage to the mucus membranes lining present inside the nose. This may be triggered by:

      • Nonallergic rhinitis (Chronic sneezing or congestion not associated with allergic reactions)
      • Influenza
      • Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
      • Common cold
      • Acute sinusitis (sinus infections)

Generally, these are the most common causes of anosmia.

  • Obstructions to nasal passages:

    This condition can be caused by something that blocks the air flow physically. These obstructions may include:

  • Damage to the nerves or brain:

    The olfactory system, that offers sense of smell, contains of receptors in mucus lining of the nose which sends information through nerves into the brain. If any part of olfactory pathway is destroyed or damaged, one may lose the sense of smell. It can be due to:

    • Zinc deficiency
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Sjogren’s syndrome (an inflammatory condition which generally causes dry eyes and mouth)
    • Schizophrenia
    • Rhinoplasty
    • Radiation therapy
    • Pick’s disease
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Paget’s bone disease (a condition which afflicts the bones, sometimes facial bones)
    • Multiple system atrophy (a progressive disease of nervous system)
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Medications (for instance, hypertension medications)
    • Malnutrition
    • Korsakoff’s psychosis (a brain disease triggered by thiamine deficiency)
    • Klinefelter syndrome (a health condition in which men have an extra X chromosome in most cells)
    • Kallmann’s syndrome (inability of testicles for producing sperms)
    • Huntington’s disease
    • Hormonal disturbance
    • Diabetes
    • Chemical exposures to some solvents or insecticides
    • Brain tumor
    • Brain surgery
    • Brain aneurysm
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Age

These are some of the causes of anosmia. One must consult the health care provider for an accurate diagnosis.

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