- Anosmia means a complete loss of the sense of smell.
Some of us probably did not know, before now, that there are people who live without being able to smell anything.
It is important to know the causes of anosmia, so that you can avoid them as much as is within your power.
Anosmia can be caused by different things – medical conditions, abnormalities in the structure of the nose, and drugs.
Causes of Anosmia
- The commonest cause of anosmia are conditions that temporarily irritate the mucous membranes that line the inside of the nose. These conditions include the common cold, influenza (flu), obstruction of the nasal passages, sinus infection (acute sinusitis), non-allergic rhinitis (sneezing that is not related to allergies), and hay fever (allergic rhinitis).
- Anosmia can also be caused by the blockage of the flow of air inside the nose and this occurs when there are nasal polyps, damage to the brain or nerves, tumours, bone deformities inside the nose, fracture of the nasal bone or cartilage, and foreign bodies.
- Head injuries are also another cause of anosmia.
- Another cause is damage to the nerves that are associated with the sense of smell; which can be caused by – diabetes, brain surgery, ageing, exposure to certain chemicals (like insecticides), and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia are also causes of anosmia.
- A thyroid gland that is underactive (hypothyroidism).
- Liver failure.
- Medications (like some high blood pressure/hypertension medications), radiation therapy, insufficient levels of zinc in the body, and nasal sprays that contain zinc (these were taken off the market in 2009) are causes of anosmia too.
- Some people are born without a sense of smell – this is rare though; and in this case, it is called congenital anosmia.
If you are worried about losing your sense of smell because you use one of the drugs that can cause anosmia or have a medical condition that can cause you to lose your sense of smell, be sure to go see your doctor.