What Is Impaired Smell?
smell is the inability to smell properly. Impaired smell can describe a
complete inability to smell, or the partial inability to smell. It’s a symptom
of several medical conditions and may be temporary or permanent.
smell can occur due to problems in the nose, brain, or nervous system. Call
your doctor if you have difficulty smelling. In certain cases it’s a sign of a
more serious underlying issue.
Potential Causes of
smell can be temporary or permanent. Temporary loss of smell usually occurs
along with allergies or bacterial or viral infections, such as:
As you age,
an impaired sense of smell is normal. The impairment is usually a distorted
sense of smell rather than a complete inability to smell.
conditions that can cause impaired smell include:
disorders like Alzheimer’s disease
in the brain
tumors or surgeries
upper respiratory infections
prescription medications, like antibiotics and high blood pressure medications,
can also alter your sense of taste or smell.
Diagnosing the Cause of
If you have
an impaired sense of smell, call your doctor before using over-the-counter
(OTC) treatment products. Let them know when you first noticed the changes in
your ability to smell, and about other symptoms you may be experiencing.
the following questions can help the doctor pinpoint what may be causing your
impaired sense of smell.
you smell some foods but not others?
you taste foods?
you take any medications?
other symptoms do you have?
you recently had a cold or flu?
you have or have you recently had allergies?
reviewing your medical history, the doctor will perform a physical examination
of your nose to see if there are any blockages in your nasal passages. These
tests may include:
(computed tomography scan)
(magnetic resonance scan)
endoscopy (examination of the nasal passages with a thin tube that contains a
will help the doctor get a closer look at the structures within your nose.
Imaging tests will reveal whether there’s a polyp or other abnormal growth
obstructing your nasal passages. They can also help determine if an abnormal
growth or tumor in the brain is altering your sense of smell. In some cases,
your doctor may need to take a sample of cells from within the nose to make a
What Treatments Are
Available for Impaired Smell?
smell caused by a viral or bacterial infection is often short-lived. In the
case of bacterial infections, antibiotics may be given to speed up the healing
process. This will help to restore smell. Decongestants and OTC antihistamines
can help relieve nasal congestion caused by allergies.
If you have
a stuffy nose and are unable to blow your nose, use a humidifier to moisten the
air. Keeping a humidifier in your home can loosen mucus and help relieve
neurological disease, tumor, or other disorder causes your impaired smell, you’ll
receive treatment for the underlying condition. Some cases of impaired smell
may be permanent.
How to Prevent Impaired
sure way to prevent the loss of smell. You can minimize the risk of contracting
colds or bacterial infections by taking the following steps.
your hands frequently throughout the day.
your hands after touching public areas.
possible, avoid people who have colds or the flu.
with the possible side effects of all of your prescription medications. Side
effects printed in the leaflet material may include impaired smell.