Anosmia

Anosmia, or the loss of the sense of smell, is common and affects most people at some point in life. It has many causes some of which are correctable after an accurate diagnosis.

Common Causes

  • Blockage: congestion and obstruction of the nose due to inflammation, allergy, masses, or nasal polyps.
  • Upper respiratory tract infection: viruses including parainfluenza, and recently reports of infection with COVID-19, a novel coronavirus.
  • Trauma: head injuries can impact the nerves that transmit smell signals to the brain.
  • Chemical and medicine induced: zinc, toxic exposures, and certain oral medications.
  • Hormone related: Thyroid gland dysfunction, Kallmann syndrome.
  • Brain mass: Frontal lobe mass (Foster Kennedy Syndrome).
  • Neurological problems: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson diseases.
  • Age related loss (presbyosmia).

Is Anosmia a serious condition?

In addition to affecting taste, the loss of smell can negatively impact your quality of life and may even be a sign of a more serious medical problem. In addition, it can put your safety at risk if you are unable to smell dangerous substances such as gas leaks.

What information is important in evaluating the loss of smell?

The timeline of the loss of smell is very important, and a careful evaluation of associated symptoms, a history of trauma, recent illnesses, new medications, and other medical problems are often helpful clues about the cause.

What can we do to help?

A careful history and physical examination can oftentimes reveal a cause which can be treatable to restore the sense of smell. This may include an examination with an endoscope or radiographic imaging studies.

Recently, a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been causing a global pandemic, with reports that loss of smell and taste can be the only symptoms of an infection. This can be an important reason to self-quarantine, and possibly for obtaining a test for the virus in certain cases.

We are now delivering COVID-19 testing. If you need a test, click here to schedule.

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