Anosmia is the inability of a person to understand and differentiate between smells. The disease can affect temporarily or it could be permanent. In certain cases, there is decrease in capacity to identify odors. This is termed as hyposmia. Opposite to this is hyperosmia, which means an increase in ability to distinguish different odor. At times, a person may not be able to recognize a particular smell. This is called specific Anosmia.
The doctors diagnose Anosmia by asking the patient to smell commonly known odors like that of vanilla,coffee,lemon,grape,garlic,vanillaandcinnamon. Generally, Anosmiacs don’t complain about their problem. It can go undiagnosed for years together since it does not have any apparent signs for persons other than the patient. However, the patient may suffer from loss of appetite since the person cannot enjoy aroma of the food.
Anosmia can prove risky as the person cannot recognize a gas leak or a fire (without seeing), short circuit or rotten food. Anosmia often leads to depression. We would all agree that every smell has got a sentimental value. The perfume you used on your first date, the smell of your baby when it was born and smell of your loved one. When a person loses the capacity to smell and distinguish different smells, it can be very depressing.
Often Anosmia leads to weaken the sexual appetite. However, this is not true for congenital anosmics. Congenital Anosmia is difficult to identify. How does a parent come to know that the child cannot smell? It is not something similar to hearing disability or visual disability which can be easily known, neither is it taken seriously. Often parents come know about their child’s disability at a very later stage.
Causes of Anosmia - Sometimes we feel loss of olfaction when we have severe cold or an infection. When the olfactory receptor neuronsin the nose die, or when there is injury in brain affecting olfactory nerve, we lose our capacity to smell. Anosmia could be identified as signal to brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Use of certain types ofnasal spray can also leads to Anosmia. Such nasal sprays should be used for only temporarily to avoid the risk of Anosmia.
Anosmia can be caused due to numerous reasons as under:
- Temporary anosmia as a result of some infection, common cold or sinusitis.
- Nasal polyps or certain nasal sprays,
- Damage to smell processing parts of the brain.
- Brain Tumors
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Due to old age
- Decrease in the production of sex hormones or the Kallmann Syndrome.
Prevention of Anosmia -
- Quit smoking immediately to improve the nasal function.
- Avoid excessive use of nasal sprays. Use alternative therapies instead to treat common cold and sinusitis. For example-doing Anulom Vilom pranayam helps in curing common cold, bronchitis and other breathing problems.
- If the bone is the nose is causing obstruction, nasal surgery can be performed.
- Doctor may prescribe zinc supplements for the treatment of Anosmia.