Anosmia

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Anosmia /ænˈɒzmi.ə/ is a lack of functioning olfaction, or in other words, an inability to perceive odors. Anosmia may be either temporary or permanent. A related term, hyposmia, refers to a decreased ability to smell, while hyperosmia refers to an increased ability to smell. Some people may be anosmic for one particular odor. This is called "specific anosmia" and may be genetically based.

Contents

Diagnosis

Anosmia can be diagnosed by doctors by using acteylcysteine tests. If you can smell it then you don't have anosmia

Presentation

Anosmia can have a number of harmful effects. Patients with sudden onset anosmia may find food less appetizing, though congenital anosmics rarely complain about this. Loss of smell can also be dangerous because it hinders the detection of gas leaks, fire, and spoiled food. The common view of anosmia as trivial can make it more difficult for a patient to receive the same types of medical aid as someone who has lost other senses, such as hearing or sight.

Losing an established and sentimental smell memory (e.g. the smell of grass, of the grandparents' attic, of a particular book, of loved ones, or of oneself) has been known to cause feelings of depression.[1]

Loss of olfaction may lead to the loss of libido, though this usually does not apply to congenital anosmics.[1]

Often people who have congenital anosmia report that they pretended to be able to smell as children because they thought that smelling was something that older/mature people could do, or did not understand the concept of smelling but did not want to appear different from others. When children get older, they often realize and report to their parents that they do not actually possess a sense of smell, often, to the surprise of their parents.[1]

Causes

A temporary loss of smell can be caused by a blocked nose or infection. In contrast, a permanent loss of smell may be caused by death of olfactory receptor neurons in the nose or by brain injury in which there is damage to the olfactory nerve or damage to brain areas that process smell (see olfactory system). The lack of the sense of smell at birth, usually due to genetic factors, is referred to as congenital anosmia. Anosmia may very occasionally be an early sign of a degenerative brain disease such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Another specific cause of permanent loss could be from damage to olfactory receptor neurons because of use of certain types of nasal spray; i.e., those that cause vasoconstriction of the nasal microcirculation. To avoid such damage and the subsequent risk of loss of smell, vasoconstricting nasal sprays should be used only when absolutely necessary and then for only a short amount of time. Non-vasoconstricting sprays, such as those used to treat allergy related congestion, are safe to use for extended periods of time.[2] Anosmia can also be caused by nasal polyps. These polyps are found in people with allergies, histories of sinusitis & family history. Individuals with cystic fibrosis often develop nasal polyps.

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