Lost or Changed Sense of Smell: Causes & Treatment

Lost or Changed Sense of Smell

Smell is a valuable ability that improves our everyday lives in many ways. Have you noticed a sudden absence of familiar scents, leaving you disconnected? If so, you might be experiencing losing smelling sense. Smell loss is temporary and returns once the underlying cause is addressed. This blog post sheds light on the reasons behind this olfactory mystery. We’ll explore the typical culprits behind smell loss, from everyday allergies to more surprising causes.

What Causes Loss or Change in Sense of Smell?

Several reasons can cause impaired smell. Here is an overview of some crucial causes: 

1. Respiratory Infections

Most people with smell disorders suffer from colds and other respiratory infections. A runny nose is common, especially in cold and flu seasons. The airway infection leads to swelling and inflammation of the nose, restricting the odour molecules from reaching the smell receptors above the nose.

2. Nasal Obstruction

For someone who experiences a sense of smell change, anything that occupies this nasal passage will significantly affect it. This could be a deviated septum, an abnormal structure that occurs when the cartilage that divides the nasal cavity gets deformed, or any object accidentally stuck inside the nose.

3. Sinus Infection

The sinuses are the air cavities surrounding the face. When infected mucus blocks them, no drainage occurs. The mucus passes to the nose through the pathways. This blockage prevents the air containing these odour molecules from passing to the olfactory receptors.

4. Allergies

Allergic reactions during specific seasons, such as spring, can lead to all the symptoms in your nose and respiratory area forming. The release of chemicals during the allergic reaction is identical to the substances that cause inflammation and congestion of the nose. This leads to a blockage that is the same as the one that occurs in colds.

5. Nasal Polyps

Polyps are noncancerous small growths usually forming in the nasal tissues or sinus lining. Although not always harmful, polyps can occasionally obstruct your nasal passage and affect your sense of smell.

Are Smell Problems Serious? 

The most common culprits behind smell problems are everyday foes like colds, allergies, or sinus infections. These can block the pathway odour molecules take to reach smell receptors in your nose. In some situations, a change in smell might warrant a doctor’s visit. If the loss is sudden and significant or lingers for weeks after a cold, it’s best to get checked. The change in sense of smell can sometimes be an early warning sign of certain health conditions.

The good news is that many causes of smell loss are treatable. Medications, injuries, or even exposure to chemicals might be the reason. Once the doctor identifies the cause, they can recommend the best action to get your health back on track.

Diagnosis for Lost or Changed Sense of Smell 

If you experience any change in your sense of smell, visit an ENT specialist nearby. An ENT Specialist in London specialises in ear, nose, and throat disorders. The doctor will assess you through a physical examination, medical history review, and allergy triggers. The doctor can also suggest small tests to understand the condition in detail. Common ways to diagnose lost smell are:

  • Some tests measure the amount of smell that a patient can detect.
  • A test consists of a paper booklet with different odours. The patients are then asked to scratch the pages and identify the smell. If they struggle to identify the odour, it indicates a changed sense of smell. 

The doctor’s diagnosis lets you look closer at your nose’s structure. The smell tests and imaging techniques will reveal whether the changed smell is temporary or there is any abnormal growth in the nasal passage. This initial consultation with the doctor can also detect any severe issues, such as nasal polyps or tumours in the brain, that are hard to diagnose in the late stages. 

How to Treat Impaired or Lost Smell?

1. Seek Medical Guidance

You can minimise the risk of sense of smell problems by seeking timely medical guidance. Let them know when you noticed the first sign of impaired smell. Many people experience loss of smell due to a recent injury or illness. The ENT specialist can help find underlying issues that can cause a severe problem in the future if left untreated. Instead of relying on ineffective methods, consulting a doctor can quickly recover your condition. 

2. Try Nasal Sprays

Nasal sprays are quick and easy ways to improve airflow or nasal congestion. If used correctly, these sprays can enhance the ability to detect odours. They reduce inflammation in the nasal passage and allow mucus to loosen and clear the passage. Your doctor can initially prescribe saline nasal sprays to relieve the nasal cavity.

3. Rhinoplasty

Rhinoplasty is considered a safe procedure for individuals dealing with severe nasal problems. The surgery can be a good option for those with internal structural issues who want to fix them quickly. The most common factor is a deviated septum. A misaligned wall between the nostrils can lead to soft tissue growth. Treating this condition with rhinoplasty surgery is essential as it can lead to nasal congestion and breathing problems. 

4. Avoid Triggers

Specific allergy triggers or other dust factors can change the sense of smell. The first step should be to diagnose these triggers via allergy tests to identify particular factors for treatment. Smoking is a significant contributor to nasal problems. If you are suffering from impaired smell, it is vital to quit smoking and adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent nasal abnormalities. 

5. Medication Treatment

The doctor can prescribe medications to promote a healthy recovery. These include antibiotics to treat sinus infections, allergies, or inflammation. If a patient is allergic to certain ingredients, the doctor can suggest alternative medicines to treat the nasal infection without affecting other conditions. 

Get Expert Help For Impaired Smell At ENT LDN

Impaired smell can affect any individual’s quality of life, confidence, and health. Temporary smell problems can return to normal in a few weeks or months. Severe problems require careful cause assessment and professional assistance. ENT LDN has the right solution to help you with nasal issues. We have the latest technology to operate rhinoplasty to provide you with the best and most natural results. Contact us with any queries, and our team will assist you with the appointment procedure.


Frequently Asked Questions

Give a try to do smell training (that is, regular sniffing of specific scents), handle allergies or congestion, and avoid irritants like smoking. Identification of the root cause through seeing a doctor is fundamental.