Anosmia is the loss of the sense of smell. The loss of smell can be partial or in rare cases complete. Relative on the causes anosmia can either be a temporary disturbance problem or a permanent one, but it is rarely a symptom of a serious condition. Anosmia is usually the result of a nasal condition or a brain injury, but some people are born without a sense of smell (congenital anosmia). However, losing the sense of smell can also mean losing interest in food, provided that in the long term it can lead to weight loss, malnutrition or depression.

Anosmia is generally caused by a difficulty with odours reaching the top of the nose due to swelling or a blockage in the nose, or a problem with the nerve signals from the nose to the brain. However, the exact cause cannot always be determined. In this case, the condition is referred to as idiopathic anosmia. On the other hand, congenital anosmia can occur on its own, isolated congenital anosmia, or it may be a sign of another genetic condition such as Klinefelter syndrome or Kallmann syndrome.


What diseases can be associated with anosmia?

The diseases that may be associated anosmia include the following:


  • Colds
  • Sinusitis
  • Nasal polyposis


It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and it would always be better to consult a doctor if symptoms persist.


Other causes of anosmia may include problems with the inner lining of the nose (colds, hay fever, influenza, non-allergic rhinitis), obstructions of the nasal passages (bone deformity, tumours, nasal polyps), and damage to the brain or nerves (rhinoplasty, brain surgery, Huntington’s disease, multiple system atrophy, radiation therapy, diabetic hypoglycaemia, aging, etc.)


What are the remedies against anosmia?

When it is caused by colds, allergies or sinusitis, anosmia resolves on its own within a few days. Otherwise, one might require an antibiotic to treat an infection or removal of any material that blocks the nasal passages. In rare cases, anosmia may be permanent. The risk of anosmia particularly increases after the age of 60. 


When to contact your doctor?

If the anosmia does not resolve itself within a few days, it is recommended to contact your doctor to determine the cause and the most appropriate remedy. To diagnose anosmia, a doctor may subject the patient to various tests, including smell tests, acetylcysteine tests, nervous system examination to check for nerve damage and possibly taste identification examinations.



In the presence of anosmia, patients may need to take special precautions because of their inability to smell fires, leaking gas, poisonous fumes or food that has gone bad. Therefore, it is recommended that people with anosmia install smoke alarms at their homes, clearly mark expiry dates on foods, change from gas to electric appliances and read warning labels on chemicals.