Can You Lose Your Sense of Smell?

What if you couldn’t stop and smell the roses? A condition known medically as anosmia is just that – an inability to perceive odors.

Anosmia can be partial or complete and, while rarely the symptom of a serious condition, can still cause a number of issues for the individual involved. Fortunately, the condition is often temporary, while in some cases – especially those involving the elderly – the loss of smell may be permanent.

What Causes a Loss of Smell?

Loss of Smell in Portland Anosmia occurs when the sinuses become swollen and inflamed. The most common causes include:
  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Allergies
  • Sinusitis
  • Non-allergic rhinitis
Nasal obstructions such as polyps, tumors and other deformities can block the flow of air through the nose and lead to a loss of smell. There are many other possible causes including Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumor, aneurysm, diabetes, cocaine use, chemical exposure, malnutrition, hormonal imbalances, medications, Parkinson’s disease, rhinoplasty, radiation therapy and old age, among others.

What Are the Symptoms?

Obviously, the telltale sign of anosmia is a loss of smell. Some also report a change in the way things smell.

If the condition persists for longer than a week or two, you should consult your Portland otolaryngologist.

Can a Loss of Smell Be Treated?

The only way to treat anosmia is to first figure out what is causing it.

  • If a cold or allergies are to blame, there is no treatment. Simply wait a few days and your sense of smell should return.


  • If your loss of smell is caused by a polyp or other growth blocking your nasal passage, you may require surgery to treat the problem.


  • For bacterial infections, antibiotics are prescribed.


  • And finally, sometimes the loss of smell is simply related to age. In these cases, the condition cannot be reversed.


If you lose your sense of smell, it is important to take some precautions to protect your safety. This includes making sure your smoke detectors are all working properly and labeling all leftovers; since your sense of smell affects your ability to taste, it is important to take care to prevent ingesting spoiled food.

To learn more about the loss of smell, contact your Portland otolaryngologist today.