What Causes Loss of Smell?


Your sense of smell is one of your most powerful senses. The scent of cinnamon and pine during the holidays, fresh-cut grass in the spring, and burgers on the grill in the summer can effectively transport you back to happy times and fond memories. But if your sense of smell is impaired, it can be frustrating. Loss of smell happens as a result of problems in the nose, brain or nervous system. So what exactly causes smell impairment?

smell impairment Your loss of smell may be due to allergies or bacterial or viral infections, including:

  • Nasal allergies. These can cause a runny or stuffy nose, sinus pressure, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes
  • When you have the flu, it’s not unusual for you to lose your sense of smell temporarily
  • Common cold. A severely stuffy nose from a cold can impair your sense of smell, but once it runs its course, you’ll be able to breathe (and smell) easy again
  • Hay fever. As with a cold, your nasal passages become constricted when you have hay fever, impairing your sense of smell, also for only a temporary amount of time

Your sense of smell may also be compromised by the following:

  • Alzheimer’s disease or dementia during which the region of the brain that handles the sense of smell deteriorates.
  • Injury to the head. You may lose your ability to smell when the frontal lobes of the brain where smell is processed are damaged.
  • Upper respiratory infections. There are many viruses that cause cold and flu, and they also interfere with the top lining in your nose that detects odors.
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Overuse of nasal decongestants. When you use too many nasal decongestants, you can actually bring on increased nasal congestion.

Most smell impairment is temporary and can be easily treated. If you’re experiencing nasal congestion and are unable to blow your nose for relief, try moistening the air with a humidifier, which can help loose mucus and ease congestion. If you’re concerned that your inability to smell is a symptom of something more serious, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

For more information, please call our office at 732-280-7855 or visit our website.