Loss of Smell

What Causes Loss of Smell?

Anosmia, or loss of smell, often occurs when the sinuses become swollen and inflamed. This is typically the result of colds, flu, allergies, sinusitis and nonallergic rhinitis. Additionally, nasal obstructions like polyps and tumors block the flow of air through the nose.

Additional reasons people lose their sense of smell include:

  • COVID-19
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Brain tumor
  • Aneurysm
  • Diabetes
  • Chemical exposure
  • Malnutrition
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Cocaine use
  • Procedures like rhinoplasty or radiation therapy
  • Old age
Man smelling a cup of coffee in an outdoor setting containing a bush of yellow flowers and a blurry storefront

Why Does COVID-19 Cause Loss of Smell?

Researchers are still in the process of determining the relationship between anosmia and COVID-19. One study posits that rather than affecting the olfactory sensory neurons directly, it impacts the cells that support these neurons. Most COVID-19 patients regain their sense of smell within several months of recovering from the virus.

How Is Anosmia Treated?

Treating loss of smell will depend on what is causing the condition. Our otolaryngologist will work with you to determine what’s causing your symptoms and the best treatment for your individual needs.

  • If a cold or allergies are the culprit, treatment is unnecessary and your symptoms will resolve on their own.
  • If a nasal polyp is blocking your nose, surgery may be recommended.
  • For bacterial infections, antibiotics will be prescribed.

Loss of smell can’t always be treated effectively, particularly if it is the result of age. In these instances, our otolaryngologist at Charleston ENT & Allergy will work with you to ensure your safety and quality of life.

No matter the cause of your symptoms, our team is here to provide you with the best treatment or management options for your individual needs. Specialized support can make all the difference. Whether you’ve just noticed anosmia or you’ve been delaying seeking treatment for it, our nasal specialists are here to partner with you through every step of your healthcare journey.