Anosmia has recently been in the news for its connection to COVID-19. But what is this mysterious condition?
Loss of Smell
Anosmia is the medical term for a complete loss of smell.
Your sense of smell is a simple process. A substance, such as the scent of a flower, releases molecules, which travel up your nose and stimulate your olfactory cells. The information is sent via the olfactory nerve cells to the brain where the smell is identified.
An issue anywhere in the process can lead to a loss of smell.
The Importance of Smell
Your sense of smell is a lot more important than simply helping you tell one flower from another. Smell is tied into your ability to taste. Together, these senses can keep you safe by alerting you to gas leaks, spoiled food and smoke.
Causes of Anosmia
There are a number of possible causes of a loss of smell, including:
- Nasal congestion
- Sinus infections
- Nasal polyps
- Injury to the nose
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Certain medications
Diagnosis & Treatment
Many causes of a loss of smell, such as allergies or an infection, will go away on their own. But if your anosmia lasts for longer than a week or two, you should contact your ear, nose and throat doctor.
Your otolaryngologist will look inside your nose with a lighted instrument to determine if a growth or infection is present.
Additional testing such as a CT scan may be needed to give your doctor a better look inside your nose.
If your loss of smell is caused by a cold or allergies, you may use an over-the-counter decongestant to help open up your nasal passage. Antibiotics may be needed if you have an infection.
If your doctor thinks your loss of smell is a side effect of a medication you are on, they will discuss alternative options. It is important to work with your doctor, as you should never stop taking your medication without medical oversight.
Polyps or other growths may require surgery if they are large enough to cause breathing problems.
In these uncertain times, you can count on the ear, nose and throat experts at North Alabama ENT. Contact us today to learn more about anosmia or to schedule an appointment.