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Anosmia Causes

Last Updated on Sep 06, 2014
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Respiratory infections, sinusitis, and head trauma are the most common causes of anosmia.


Anosmia arises when any obstruction inside the nasal cavity blocks odors from reaching the olfactory area. Besides, damage to the olfactory epithelium, nerves that carry the signals from the epithelium to the brain or the part of the brain that perceives smell can also result in anosmia. Medical conditions like allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps (growths), atrophic rhinitis and chronic sinusitis are common diagnoses. The major causes include:

  • Head trauma. Most common in young adults.
  • Viral infections and Alzheimer’s disease in older adults
  • About 14 to 26% of all presenting cases of hyposmia or anosmia are due to upper respiratory tract infections (URI) (URI refers to the infection of nose, sinuses, pharynx or larynx), esp. influenza infection.
  • Prior head and neck radiation, recent nasal or sinus surgery, nasal and brain tumors, and toxins are also implicated as causes of anosmia.
  • Exposure to the following drugs may cause anosmia in susceptible persons:

Amphetamines, enalapril, estrogen, naphazoline, phenothiazines, reserpine

  • Prolonged use of decongestants is also a cause. Patients may also give history of exposure to toxins like cadmium, or manganese.
  1. Cecil Medicine, 23rd Ed.
  2. The Merck Manual of Patient Symptoms.

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I'm not sure if it's just my constant allergies but I seem to have on and off issues with smell throughout my life... Thanks for the info I'm going to discuss this with my doctor.


I'm 46 year old white male and as far back as I can remember I have not had a sense of smell. Sometimes I'm grateful I don't but most of the time I really wish I did. I work in Law Enforcement and it is a sense that would really come in useful most of the time. I don't have a loss of apatite. I am more drawn to sweet foods than most other types of foods. I had an extreme case of chicken pox as a kid...far worse than most people. As a matter of fact the Doctors in the emergency room I went to took pictures of me because they had not seen a case as severe as mine. I have had severe sinusitis as a young adult 25-33. I had surgery that opened up all my sinuses and removed some huge polyps be hind my right eye. I was getting horrible head aches as a result of my chronic sinus problems. Since that time I haven't had anymore problems. I used to smoke for about 14 or so years but have not smoked for about 15-16 years. I would love to be able to smell my wife's perfume, her cooking, or on the job I'd love to be able to detect the smell of alcohol and drugs. Is there any hope of gaining a sense of smell? Where would I go to get answers>


I am a 32-year-old male who has been suffering from anosmia for the past 10 years. Initially, I had sinusitis problems and has been undergoing different kinds of treatments without any significant relief. one of those was the ayurvedic treatment of nasya for approximately 10 days, which made my life a hell, where I lost my smell and consulted an ENT and was told was due to mucus infection and had undergone again various treatments resulting in polypoidectomy too, but everything was in vain. Ultimately, these treatments have provided nothing, but depression, a life without taste, smell, nothing more than a hell, it just continues. Right now, I am undergoing homeopathic treatment, but that too without any success. It should be noted that once in a while, for a fraction of second, I do get smell, and it vanishes for ever. Please may I know kindly if there is any remedy for me to regain my smell and taste back, so that my life will be of some meaning to me. Please do guide me as to which physician I need to consult. Of note, I had CT scan about 5 years ago, which did not reveal anything of significance.


A patient with complete anosmia wil still respond to inhalation of; 1. coffee 2. ammonia 3. vanilla 4. garlic


I also have the problem of getting the right smell especially during winters! I have consulted a few doctors, but my situation haven't improved much. Can anyone suggest remedies for this problem of mine?


are you sure? I have anosmia and I can't sense coffee. My friend tested me. And ammonia, as in when you let your pee sit in the toilet without flushing? Yea, I definitely can't smell that. Docs tested me with an alcohol pad too and I couldn't identify that, so wherever you're getting your information, please review it's authenticity


I could never smell as long as I remember..does anyone else have this same issue? I guess being born not able to smell. I've been reading that people had smell but lost it due to a sickness or medicines. etc. thanks

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