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Smell Disorders

In the United States, there are more than 3 million cases of Allergic Rhinitis a year.

Our sense of smell is part of our chemical sensing system.The smell (olfactory) nerve is located above the sinuses that lie between your eyes. If smells cannot reach that area, you can have a decrease in your ability to smell or your perception of odors may change.

Smell Disorder Causes:

Smell disorders have many causes, but most of the time they are due to swelling in the nose that prevents olfactory nerve stimulation. Smell disorders can be caused by:

  • Head injuries

  • Upper respiratory infections

  • Sinus infections

  • Hormonal disturbances

  • Aging

  • Growths in the nasal cavities, such as nasal polyps

  • Dental problems

  • Exposure to chemicals, such as solvents and insecticides

  • Radiation treatment from head and neck cancer

  • Diseases that affect the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.

Smell Disorder Symptoms:

There are different types of smell disorders. These include:

  • Hyposmia- Reduced ability to detect odor.

  • Anosmia- Inability to detect odors at all. In rare cases, people are born without a sense of smell (congenital anosmia).

  • Parosmia- Change in the normal perception of odors so that familiar odors are distorted (something that normally smells like a flower now smells metallic).

  • Phantosmia- Sensation that an odor is present when it is not really there.

Smell Disorders Treatment: 

While certain smell disorders are permanent, others can be effectively treated.

Patients with nasal and/or sinus conditions can be managed with sinus rinses, decongestants, antihistamines, antibiotics, and oral or topical steroids alone or in combination. Steroids can also be injected into the polyps or swelling, given intramuscularly or intravenously. Surgery is sometimes recommended for nasal polyps, chronic sinusitis, deviated septum or other nasal anatomic obstruction. 

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