Our sense of smell helps us enjoy life, being a warning system that alerts us to danger signals such as a bad food, fire, smoke, gas leak and so on. A loss sense of smell which could result from various causes, does not only have negative effects on the quality of life but can also be a sign of more serious health problems. RALIAT AHMED explains some of the possible causes of both temporary and permanent loss of smell.
The sense of smell plays a very important role in our sense of well-being and quality of life. A loss of sense of smell, which is one of the five senses of human beings have many causes, with some more serious than others. Most people who develop this disorder must either have experienced a recent illness or environmental factor. However, there are some common causes that we might not really be conscious of.
Household Cleaning Products
Your sense of smell could be affected by too much cleaning. The use of strong household cleaners, such as bleach, in unventilated areas such like toilets and bathrooms can cause the toxic smell to affect the delicate lining and sensory cells in the nose.
This applies to the serial cleaners among us at home, but is also particularly relevant to those who work in industries that use chemicals such as chlorine, acids or solvents or are even surrounded by metal dusts on a day-to-day basis.
Tooth ache from tooth infection is a very painful condition that apart from being painful it could affect your sense of smell. Infection occurs when bacteria spreads inside the teeth or gums, causing a chronic dental infection or, in some cases, a dental abscess. When this bacteria spreads into maxillary sinuses, the small, air-filled spaces behind the cheek bones,it can cause inflammation, soreness, fever and eventually a loss of sense of smell.
Nasal polyps or sinus
Nasal polyps or sinus are small growths of noncancerous tissue that develop along the inside of the nasal and sinus cavities. It prevents air from getting to the area in the nose where the smell receptors are found. These growths occur most frequently in people who have asthma or allergies.
The danger of sinus has to do with their obstructive effects upon the sinus drainage. If this occurs, then either chronic infection can ensue, which would be characterised by facial pain, infected-appearing drainage, and worsening nasal stuffiness. When the nose is blocked, even favorite food tastes dull and tasteless because of inability to smell. This may affect appetite as well and even lead to depression.Allergic rhinitis, another nasal condition may also lead to temporary loss of smell sense.
Sense of smell is often affected temporarily by a cold because the nasal passages become blocked with excess mucus, and the tissue that lines the nostrils becomes inflamed and swollen.
However, temporary loss of smell due to sinus disorders can be treated with antibiotics, corticosteroids and other medicines but in some cases, it can get so bad that it could lead to a permanent loss of sense of smell.
There are several other factors that can lead to either temporary or complete loss of smell apart from those already mentioned.
Ageing is another factor that could lead to reduction or loss of sense of smell. According to experts, as human beings age, the number of fibres in the olfactory bulb starts to decrease, hence there’s less sensitivity to smells. Along with deteriorating sight and hearing, a reduced sense of smell is another sign of ageing.
Experts also found out that 25 per cent of people over 60 may suffer from this and this figure may increase to 62.5 per cent in those aged 80 to 97.
Head injuries such as a sports injury or car accident can cause a problem with smell. It could be mild to severe. This is possible, especially if the injury occurs to the front of the brain, which responds to smell messages.
When head injuries occur, because of the force of the impact on the head, it shifts the brain within the skull, tearing the delicate nerve fibres that connect the nose to the brain which eventually can lead to not being able to perceive odour.
In these cases, there is no specific treatment, but in up to 39 per cent of patients the nerves re-grow, but this can take up to three years after the injury.