Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101


Have you ever been really sick with a flu you found yourself having trouble smelling anything, or even tasting your food?

Most people have experienced the inability to smell at some point in their lives, others  live everyday of their lives this way.


What is Anosmia?

Anosmia is a condition in which the sense of smell is partially or completely lost, resulting in an inability to smell. Depending on the cause(s), the loss of smell can be temporary or permanent (Hornung, 2016).

What causes Anosmia? 

The most common causes of partial and temporary loss of smell include;

  • Allergies (hay-fever)
  • Sinus infection (acute sinusitis)
  • Chronic congestion
  • Influenza (flu)
  •  The common cold
  • Obstruction of the nasal cavity (nasal polyps or tumors).

Permanent Anosmia can be caused by damage to the brain, and nerves in the nasal cavity due to:

  • Aging
  • Brain surgery
  • Traumatic head injury
  • Chemical exposure.

Permanent loss of smell can be congenital. Other medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and epilepsy may also be associated with permanent loss of smell (Reference).  

What are the symptom(s)?

The symptom’s of Anosmia include an inability to detect odors, change in perception of odors, and loss of sense of taste (Hornung, 2016).

Can Anosmia be treated/cured? 

Some cases of Anosmia can be treated/cured depending on the cause.Temporary loss of smell due to nasal irritants can be treated (in most cases cured) using Antihistamines, antibiotics (for bacterial infections), or oral/systemic steroids.

Ansomia caused by the common cold, flu, or allergies can be restored once the swelling in the nasal cavity subsides.

Loss of smell due to obstruction of the nasal cavity can be treated by surgery, to remove the blockage.It can also be treated using oral or systemic steroids to reduce swelling.

A research conducted by Hsu, C, & his colleagues,  showed that patients suffering from smell disturbance due to chronic sinusitis, showed an improved in olfactory function ( improved sense of smell) after undergoing endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS).

There  is currently no known cure or treatment  for congenital Anosmia.


The sense of smell is important to personal safety in dangerous situation, however when an individual losses their sense of smell, they have the inability to detect smoke, spoiled food, and natural gas.  In order to prevent injury and enhance quality of life for anosmics,  instituting compensatory strategies are important (Hornung, 2016) . These strategies may include:

  • Marking/ labeling  expiry dates on food.
  • Installing smoke alarms, and gas detectors in the house.
  • Reading warning labels when using chemicals.

Smoke detector   danger20hazardous20chemicals



Hornung, D. P. (2016). Anosmia. Magill’S Medical Guide (Online Edition),<;.

Hsu, C., Wang, Y., Shen, P., Weitzel, E. K., Lai, J., & Wormald, P. (2013). Objective olfactory outcomes after revision endoscopic sinus surgery. American Journal Of Rhinology & Allergy, <;.




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This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Burwood - Wednesday 12pm, Uncategorized and tagged .

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