why do we lose our sense of smell

Most of us take our for granted. But have you ever thought about what it would be like to not be able to smell something? The complete loss of smell is called
(an-OHZ-me-uh). Without your, food tastes different, you can't smell the scent of a flower, and you could find yourself in a dangerous situation, unknowingly. For example, without the ability to detect odors, you wouldn't smell a gas leak, smoke from a fire, or sour milk. Taste and smell disorders send hundreds of thousands of Americans to the doctor each year. Fortunately, for most people, anosmia is a temporary nuisance caused by a severely stuffy nose from a cold.

Once the cold runs its course, a person's sense of smell returns. But for some people, including many elderly, the loss of a sense of smell may persist. In addition, anosmia can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. Any ongoing problems with smell should be checked out by a doctor. A person's sense of smell is driven by certain processes. First, a molecule released from a substance (such as fragrance from a flower) must stimulate special nerve cells (called olfactory cells) found high up in the nose.

These nerve cells then send information to the, where the specific smell is identified. Anything that interferes with these processes, such as nasal congestion, nasal blockage, or damage to the nerve cells themselves, can lead to loss of smell. The ability to smell also affects our ability to taste. Without the sense of smell, our taste buds can only detect a few flavors, and this can affect your quality of life. Nasal congestion from a cold, or poor air quality is the most common cause of anosmia. Other anosmia causes include: -- small noncancerous growths in the nose and that block the nasal passage.

Injury to the nose and smell nerves from surgery or. Exposure to toxic chemicals, such as pesticides or solvents. Certain, including, anti-inflammatory medication, medications, and others. abuse. Old age. Like and hearing, your sense of smell can become weaker as you age. In fact, one's sense of smell is most keen between the ages of 30 and 60 and begins to decline after age 60. Certain medical conditions, such as, nutritional deficiencies, congenital conditions, and hormonal disturbances. treatment of head and neck cancers.

If you have an impaired sense of smell, call your doctor before using over-the-counter (OTC) treatment products. Let them know when you first noticed the changes in your ability to smell, and about other symptoms you may be experiencing. Answering the following questions can help the doctor pinpoint what may be causing your impaired sense of smell. Can you smell some foods but not others? Can you taste foods? Do you take any medications? What other symptoms do you have? Have you recently had a cold or flu? Do you have or have you recently had allergies? After reviewing your medical history, the doctor will perform a physical examination of your nose to see if there are any blockages in your nasal passages.

These tests may include: These tests will help the doctor get a closer look at the structures within your nose. Imaging tests will reveal whether thereвs a polyp or other abnormal growth obstructing your nasal passages. They can also help determine if an abnormal growth or tumor in the brain is altering your sense of smell. In some cases, your doctor may need to take a sample of cells from within the nose to make a diagnosis.

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