Anosmia is a condition that leads to partial or complete loss of the sense of smell. In most cases, a severe cold may lead to a stuffy nose, irritation which may cause temporary loss of smell. Sometimes more serious disorders that affect the brain such as brain tumour or head injury can result in permanent loss of sensation. The ageing process can also lead to loss of smell. Although anosmia is not a serious problem, it may hamper the quality of life. Also Read: Nasal Polyps: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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Generally, people suffering from this condition may not be able to enjoy the taste and flavour of the food and ultimately lose interest in eating which may result in nutritional deficiency and weight loss. Anosmia in some cases may also lead to depression, as it hinders a person’s ability to smell and taste delectable foods.


An individual’s sense of smell is first initiated by any substance or food that releases fragrance stimulates the special nerve cells called the olfactory cells situated up high in the nose. These receptors cells receive the signal and transmit the signal to the brain, where the specific smell is identified.

Any condition that interferes with these processes such as swelling or blockage in the nasal passage like a polyp or nasal fracture or inflammation, nerve damage or a brain function disorder that prevents odour from passing into the region of the nose and hampers one’s ability to smell normally. Also Read: Nasal Congestion Can Be Serious, Learn About Treatment

Problems associated with temporary irritation or congestion in the nose include:

  • Sinusitis
  • Flu
  • Common cold
  • Hay fever
  • Non-allergic rhinitis
  • Smoking

A condition that obstructs nasal passage include:

  • Deviated Septum
  • Nasal Polyps
  • Tumours

Some of the conditions that damage the nerve or brain

Diagnosis And Treatment

The condition is difficult to evaluate. The loss of smell due to cold, sinus or allergies settles on its own and clears after a few days. The doctor generally performs a complete physical examination and collects medical history about the symptoms. The doctor may further recommend certain tests depending upon the assessment which includes CT scan, X-ray of the brain and nasal endoscopy.

Treatment usually depends upon the cause of anosmia, if the loss of smell is caused due to a cold, allergy, or sinus infection, it will clear on its own in a few days. However, seek medical help if anosmia doesn’t clear even after cold or allergy symptoms have settled.

Treatment that may help manage anosmia caused due to nasal irritation includes prescription medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, steroid nasal spray and antibiotics.

Furthermore, reducing the exposure to nasal allergens, irritants and quitting smoking may also help to improve the sense of smell.