Have you ever found it difficult to smell things? The discomfort you felt is nothing compared to what people who are dealing with hyposmia go through.

Impaired sense of smell or hyposmia is the inability to smell properly. The term hyposmia can be used to describe an inability to smell anything at all, or a partial inability to perceive or smell.

It may happen temporarily and go away without treatment. Still, in many cases, it is a symptom of some medical conditions and may either be permanent or temporary.

Loss of smell, whether temporarily or permanently, may occur as a result of problems in the brain, nose, or nervous system. If you notice that you have difficulty smelling, do well to consult your doctor.

If it is a sign of an underlying medical problem, early diagnosis may be very helpful.

Potential causes of hyposmia or impaired smell

The impaired smell can show up suddenly and be temporary or permanent. If you are dealing with a temporary loss of smell, it likely would have occurred along with bacterial or allergies or viral infections, such as:

  • Cold
  • Nasal allergies
  • Hay fever
  • Influenza

As you grow older, an impaired sense of smell is a normal occurrence. The impairment that results from growing older is usually a slightly distorted sense of instead of a complete inability to smell.

Other conditions that can lead to an impaired sense of smell include:

  • Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease
  • Dementia (memory loss), such as Alzheimer’s
  • Head injury
  • Tumors in the brain
  • Malnutrition
  • Nasal tumors or surgeries
  • Viral upper respiratory infections
  • sinusitis (sinus infection)
  • radiation therapy
  • hormonal disturbances
  • nasal decongestant use

Certain prescription medications, such as high blood pressure drugs and antibiotics, can also alter both your sense of smell or taste.

Diagnosing the cause of hyposmia or impaired smell

If you have been dealing with an impaired sense of smell, the first thing you must do is to call your doctor before you opt for using any over-the-counter (OTC) treatment products.

Do well to inform your doctor about when you first noticed the changes in how you smell things and also feed them information on any other symptoms that you may have been experiencing.

Answering the questions below can go a long way to help the doctor pinpoint what the root cause of your impaired sense of smell:

  • Can you smell certain foods but cannot smell others?
  • Can you taste food?
  • Do you take any specific medications, and for how long?
  • What other noticeable symptoms do you have?
  • Have you recently had the flu or a cold?
  • Do you have any allergy or have you always had allergies?

After doing a review of your medical history, the doctor will proceed to perform a physical exam of your nose to find out if there are blockages in your nasal passages.

The tests your doctor will carry out may include;

  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • nasal endoscopy (an examination of the nasal passages with a slim tube that contains a camera)
  • X-Ray

These tests will assist the doctor get a better look at the structures inside your nose. An Imaging test will help the doctor find out whether there is a polyp or any other abnormal growth that may be obstructing your nasal passages.

These tests can also help to determine if there is any abnormal growth or tumor in your brain is disturbing your sense of smell. In a few cases, your doctor may need to take a sample of cells from within the nose to make a diagnosis.

What treatments are available for impaired smell?

An Impaired smell that is found to be caused by a bacterial or viral infection is often short-lived. If you recently had or still have a bacterial infection, the doctor may give you some antibiotics to speed up your healing process.

This will help to fully restore smell. OTC antihistamines and Decongestants can help to relieve nasal congestion that is caused by allergies.

If you notice that you have a stuffy nose and you are unable to blow out your nose, you may need to use a humidifier to moisten the air. Having a humidifier in your home can help to loosen mucus and also relieve nasal congestion.

If a neurological disease, tumor, or other disorder causes your impaired smell, you’ll receive treatment for the underlying condition. Some cases of impaired smell may be permanent.

How to prevent the impaired smell?

There’s no set in stone instructions that serve as a sure way to prevent the loss of smell. You can easily minimize the risk of getting colds or bacterial infections if you take the following steps:

  • Wash your hands as often as possible throughout the day.
  • Wash your hands after coming back home or touching public areas
  • When possible, avoid contact with people who have the flu or colds

Talk to your doctor about your prescription medications and get familiar with the possible side effects of these prescription medications. In most cases, there will be possible Side effects printed in the leaflet of the medications, and they may include impaired smell.

Our take on hyposmia

Hyposmia is a condition that can affect people of all ages and may either be temporary or permanent. Some habits like smoking can trigger this condition, and sometimes it may be due to a minor blockage that can resolve without treatment in a short time.

It is vital to inform your doctor about any disturbance with your sense of smell so that if it is a symptom of an underlying condition, it can be diagnosed and treated.

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