Smell Disorders - Causes

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What causes smell disorders?

Smell disorders have many causes, some clearer than others. Most people who develop a smell disorder have recently experienced an illness or an injury. Common triggers are upper respiratory infections and head injuries. In some patients, the exact cause for decreased smell remains unknown, even after more serious causes are ruled out.

Among other causes of smell disorders are polyps in the nasal cavities, sinus infections, hormonal disturbances, or dental problems. Exposure to certain chemicals, such as insecticides and solvents, and some medicines have also been associated with smell disorders. People with head and neck cancers who receive radiation treatment are also among those who experience problems with their sense of smell.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: ginger, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 07

When I was twenty, some foods, smoke, perfume and chemicals started smelling so strong and distasteful that I had to remove myself from the building or vicinity outside. I almost felt like being hit and the esophagus spasms started. So much pain was involved. Years later, I realized that what I reacted to was everything that aggravated my reflux, digestion and thereby caused my esophagus and breathing spasms. My reflux caused by my sensitivity to sugar, carbohydrates and maybe yeast resulting in burping, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and esophagus spasms has partly caused my smell disorder along with heredity, smoking for five years and my allergic rhinitis. The sensitivity to smells and distortion of such does run in my family. It was very hard to deal with physically and mentally. Aside from the stress of various misdiagnoses and lack of knowledge of well-intended but uninformed medical staff of like thirty years ago and a bit more recent knowing that something is happening and being told it isn't is stressful. One thing that may help some is to have a few drops of lemon in water or however. This replaces the bad smell and if you are having burping and/or esophagus spasms caused by reflux it will help because lemon is a natural muscle relaxer. Another help is using a honey-lemon menthol cough drop which overrides the other smell and can also relax your throat muscle after eating and works good if you can't brush your teeth quickly which helps if you have reflux. I have found some improvement by eating more fiber, fruit, vitamins and lots of water. I restricted my diet as a teen and twenty year old because I was overeating with some foods, with which problem medical staff were unable to help me. This situation may have made some of my issues worse. I had some mood issues which mostly clear as long as I don't eat much sugar and caffeine. I had been using a great amount of caffeine as a teen and in my twenties. I'm trying salt-water nasal spray too and I take Flonase. It was very hard to live a normal life and work in many places. Thankfully there is a somewhat more information now.

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Comment from: Tsukert, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 15

I inhaled fumes from empty propane tank for more than an hour. Now I am hypersensitive to all food smells that have sulfur, like when cooking onions and garlic I break out I. I get hives and red and itchy face, ears and neck.

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