Anosmia: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Anosmia?

Anosmia is the partial or complete loss of the sense of smell. Anosmia is usually not serious. But it can have a profound effect on a persons quality of life.  People with Anosmia may not be able to taste foods. They may lose interest in eating. This can lead to weight loss or malnutrition. People with Anosmia may also become depressed because they are not able to smell or taste pleasurable foods.

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Recovery Time

  • There is no recovery from the loss of sense of smell due to aging process.
  • Loss of sense of smell due to nasal allergies or cold usually clears up on its own after a few days.
  • A common belief is that if recovery is to occur it will happen in the first three months for the majority of people with anosmia and for some people it may take years.


Diagnosis of anosmia is made by taking a detailed history, examining the patient and carrying out some tests which include
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Nasal endoscopy
  • Olfactory nerve testing
  • X-ray of the skull

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  Does intranasal spray use causes anosmia?
Intranasal use of nasal gels and sprays containing zinc for upper respiratory viral infections has been implicated in loss of smell function. Anosmia or hyposmia occurs due to its excessive use.

Q2.  Is anosmia hereditary?
Kallmann s syndrome is an X-linked disorder caused by mutations in the KAL1 gene, which encodes anosmin, a protein that mediates the migration of neural progenitors of the olfactory bulb and GnRH-producing neurons. These individuals have GnRH deficiency and variable combinations of anosmia or hyposmia, renal defects, and neurologic abnormalities, including mirror movements. This syndrome though rare found I females and hereditary.

Q3.  What Are the Complications of Anosmia?
People with anosmia may lose interest in food and eating. This could lead to malnutrition and weight loss.

Q4.  How Is Anosmia Treated?
Treatment depends on the cause. If the loss of smell occurs with a cold, an allergy, or a sinus infection, it will typically clear up on its own in a few days. You should consult your doctor if the anosmia does not clear up once the cold or allergy symptoms have subsided.
Loss of smell caused by nasal obstruction can be treated by removing whatever is obstructing your nasal passage. This removal may involve operations to remove nasal polyps, straighten the nasal septum, or clear out the sinuses
Elderly people are more susceptible to losing their sense of smell permanently.
There is no treatment available currently for people with congenital anosmia.
Patients with partial loss of their sense of smell can add concentrated flavoring agents to food to improve their enjoyment of the food.

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