Anosmia is a disorder which features with loss of sense of smell. People suffering from anosmia are unable to perceive odors. The problem may be transitory or permanent. In some cases it is related to certain medical conditions and it can also develop due to exposure to certain chemicals or environmental pollutants. If permanent the condition can be very serious and lead to severe disability. By not being able to recognize certain smells, people suffering from anosmia are at increased risk to eat spoiled food or they may not recognize the presence of a gas leak or fire and expose themselves to dangerous situations.
Causes of Anosmia
In order to evaluate whether anosmia can be successfully treated or not it is necessary to identify the underlying cause of the problem.
Some people suffer from congenital anosmia. On the other hand, anosmia can be acquired. Temporary acquired anosmia is generally caused by nasal congestion, a feature of many infections of the upper respiratory tract. Anosmia can be also a complication or a consequence of a serious head trauma which leads to damage of olfactory structures (such as olfactory bulb or olfactory pathways).
Anosmia can be associated with other medical conditions such as nasal polyps, tumors, allergies, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Foster Kennedy syndrome etc. Even zinc deficiency can induce anosmia. And finally, irritants and toxins (e.g. cadmium poisoning) as well as abuse of nasal decongestants may cause anosmia in previously healthy people.
How to Deal with Anosmia
All patients suffering from anosmia complain about loss of sense of smell. The condition can be easily confirmed with a simple test. A patient closes his/ her eyes and certain substances are introduced and the patient is supposed to recognize them according to their scent. If the patient fails to identify the substance he/ she is definitely suffering from anosmia.
The treatment for anosmia generally depends on the underlying conditions. Temporary anosmia caused by upper respiratory tract infections is not so serious since it withdraws once the symptoms and signs of the infection subside. In case of nasal polyps or tumors the treatment may include surgery. Permanent damage to olfactory structure causes complete loss of sense of smell and lifelong problem. People who use nasal decongestants for a longer period of time can regain the sense of smell if they quit with these medications. The sense of smell is restored within a couple of days. Ansomia caused by allergies is brought under control with proper treatment with anti allergy medications. And finally, anosmia caused by zinc deficiency can be treated with suitable supplements.