Smell disorder facts*
*Smell disorder facts by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
- People who experience smell disorders experience either a loss in their ability to smell or changes in the way they perceive odors.
- Hyposmia is when the ability to detect odor is reduced. Anosmia is when a person can't detect odor at all. Some people experience change in the perception of odors, or notice that familiar odors become distorted, or may perceive a smell that isn't present at all.
- Smell disorders have many causes including illness such as upper respiratory infection, injury, polyps in the nasal cavities, sinus infections, hormonal disturbances, dental problems, exposure to certain chemicals such as insecticides and solvents, some medicines, and radiation due to head and neck cancers.
- Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, malnutrition, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Korsakoff's psychosis are all accompanied or signaled by chemosensory problems like smell disorders.
- There is no specific treatment for smell disorders. If the cause is due to medication, adjusting or changing the drug may relieve symptoms. If an underlying illness causes the smell disorder, when that illness resolves or is treated the sense of smell usually returns. Surgery can remove nasal polyps.
Every year, thousands of people develop problems with their sense of smell. In fact, more than 200,000 people visit a physician each year for help with smell disorders or related problems. If you experience a problem with your sense of smell, call your doctor. This fact sheet explains smell and smell disorders.
Many people who have smell disorders also notice problems with their sense of taste.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/18/2014
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