If you have a partial or complete loss of smell, you may be living with hyposmia. This can take a toll on your everyday life as smell brings pleasure to day-to-day tasks and allows you to develop and remember memories.
A sense of smell can also keep you safe as a loss of it can prevent you from identifying spoiled food, fire, or gas. For this reason, it's imperative to seek medication attention as soon as you notice it.
According to research by the National Institutes of Health discovered that 12% of U.S. adults experience a loss of smell. Hyposmia can be temporary or permanent and is typically more common in older individuals.
Causes of Hyposmia
There are a wide variety of reasons you may have hyposmia. Some of the most common causes of this condition include allergies, infections, nasal polyps, deviated septums, chronic sinus issues, dental complications, and hormonal imbalances.
Medications such as certain antibiotics, antidepressants, and antihistamines may also lead to hyposmia. In addition, you may experience this condition if you smoke tobacco, use cocaine or other recreational drugs, have been exposed to certain chemicals over a long period of time, or are undergoing radiation for head or neck cancer.
If you've lost your sense of smell and are unsure why, it's essential to visit a doctor for a physical exam. During the exam, you can expect them to take a close look into your nasal passage and sinuses. They may also conduct an endoscopy, which involves inserting a tube with a camera into your nose to thoroughly inspect it.
The exam will allow a doctor to determine if you have swelling, pus, bleeding, blockages, growth, or a deviated septum. In the event they can't figure out the cause of your hyposmia, they may suggest an MRI scan to evaluate the part of your brain that identifies smell. A scratch and sniff test may be recommended as well.
The goal of hyposmia treatment is to resolve the underlying condition causing it. Sometimes, conservative treatments like an antihistamine or steroid medication can help relieve any inflammation. Options like nasal rinses, supplements, and therapies may be useful as well.
Other times, however, surgery may be necessary. This may be the case if a doctor determines your hyposmia is the result of a deviated septum, nasal polyps, or another structural issue.