How to recover smell

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Smell is the sense of our body that is responsible for perceiving and processing the smells that are released around us. Although other senses of our body may seem more essential, smell also fulfills a series of important functions for our day to day such as determining the state of food, detecting environmental hazards such as a gas leak or a fire or, simply, enjoying the aroma of flowers or perfumes.

How to recover smell

For all these reasons, the loss of smell (whether minimal, partial or total) can have a very negative effect on our quality of life. But, when this happens to us, the first thing we think about is how to recover smell. In this article we will explain what treatments currently exist to be able to smell normal again, depending on the reason that has caused the loss of this sense.

Causes of sudden loss of smell

The loss of the sense of smell is a more frequent disorder than we may think at first, since there are multiple causes why we can stop smelling from one moment to the next. In fact, depending on the reason that is affecting this sense of our body, the loss of smell can be transient or irreversible. It can also be either a total loss of the ability to detect odors (anosmia), or a partial inability to process the different aromas (hyposmia). Sometimes, also depending on the cause, there can even be the loss of smell and taste at the same time, since according to the Spanish Society of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (Seorl-CCC) an olfactory stimulation occurs simultaneously to chewing and swallowing. That is, the odorous and gustatory sensations end up integrating and, therefore, are difficult to distinguish one from the other.

Now that we know what types of this olfactory problem can occur, below, we will explain the main causes of sudden loss of smell:

  • Nasal and / or sinus pathologies: the most common is sinusitis, which consists of an inflammation that occurs in the mucosa of the paranasal sinuses due to a virus, allergy, fungus or bacteria and that causes symptoms such as transient loss of smell, pain in the eyes and nasal congestion, among others. It can also occur due to other pathologies such as nasal allergies or rhinitis. In this other article we tell you what are the symptoms of sinusitis
  • Upper respiratory infection: such as a flu or a common cold where due to nasal congestion there is also a transient loss of smell.
  • Blockages in the nose: the development of nasal polyps, deformities in the nasal septum or the growth of tumors in the nasal lining also influence smell.
  • Medication use: The consumption of medicines such as estrogen, nafazolin, nasal decongestants, reserpine or zinc-based products can reduce the ability to perceive odors.
  • Other causes: endocrine disorders, neurological problems, head trauma, nasal and/or sinus surgery, radiotherapy to the face or head and some nutritional deficiencies can also alter the sense of smell.

How to recover lost smell – medical treatment

As we have seen in the previous section, the loss of smell can be caused by different causes. Therefore, medical treatments for the recovery of smell will depend directly on the pathology that is causing this disorder. Next, we will explain how to recover the lost smell with medical treatments according to the pathology that causes this inability to detect odors:

Nasal pathology: treatment for sinusitis

As we have already explained, sinusitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the sinuses. In this case, health care workers often assign medications to improve symptoms of this condition (such as loss of smell). Among the most common treatments are usually analgesics for pain and nasal washes with saline solutions, intranasal corticosteroids and nasal decongestants to reduce nasal congestion and improve the loss of smell.

Upper respiratory infections

Upper respiratory infections such as a common cold or flu usually cause a transient loss of smell so it is most normal to recover this sense at the same time that we recover from the condition. In the event that it is caused by a viral agent, treatment is usually symptomatic since the doctor can assign analgesic drugs for pain and fever and products to decongest the nose. However, if the infection is bacterial, the doctor will also assign antibiotics.

Nasal allergies

Nasal allergies can also lead to a temporary loss of smell due to symptoms such as nasal congestion. In this type of case, the medical treatment that is usually assigned are antihistamine drugs with saline solutions to rinse the paranasal sinuses accompanied by certain care at home (use of dehumidifiers, cleaning of garments and carpets with hot water, etc.).

Blockages in the nose

Other disorders that cause a loss of smell are blockages in the nose caused mainly by nasal polyps or deformities in the nasal septum. In this type of case, the most used treatment is usually nasal surgeries to correct this type of obstructions that are preventing the perception of odors.

In the case of polyps in the nose, you may be interested in this other post on How to treat nasal polyps.

How to recover lost smell – medical treatment

As we have seen in the previous section, the loss of smell can be caused by different causes. Therefore, medical treatments for the recovery of smell will depend directly on the pathology that is causing this disorder. Next, we will explain how to recover the lost smell with medical treatments according to the pathology that causes this inability to detect odors:

Nasal pathology: treatment for sinusitis

As we have already explained, sinusitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the sinuses. In this case, health care workers often assign medications to improve symptoms of this condition (such as loss of smell). Among the most common treatments are usually analgesics for pain and nasal washes with saline solutions, intranasal corticosteroids and nasal decongestants to reduce nasal congestion and improve the loss of smell.

Upper respiratory infections

Upper respiratory infections such as a common cold or flu usually cause a transient loss of smell so it is most normal to recover this sense at the same time that we recover from the condition. In the event that it is caused by a viral agent, treatment is usually symptomatic since the doctor can assign analgesic drugs for pain and fever and products to decongest the nose. However, if the infection is bacterial, the doctor will also assign antibiotics.

Nasal allergies

Nasal allergies can also lead to a temporary loss of smell due to symptoms such as nasal congestion. In this type of case, the medical treatment that is usually assigned are antihistamine drugs with saline solutions to rinse the paranasal sinuses accompanied by certain care at home (use of dehumidifiers, cleaning of garments and carpets with hot water, etc.).

Blockages in the nose

Other disorders that cause a loss of smell are blockages in the nose caused mainly by nasal polyps or deformities in the nasal septum. In this type of case, the most used treatment is usually nasal surgeries to correct this type of obstructions that are preventing the perception of odors.

In the case of polyps in the nose, you may be interested in this other post on How to treat nasal polyps.

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