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Why Did I Suddenly Lose my Sense of Smell?

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The ability to smell often goes underappreciated until it’s gone. Losing the sense of smell can be alarming and limits our needs and desires to enjoy the pleasant aromas (flowers, baked goods, etc.) and respond to concerning odors that serve as warnings in our surroundings (smoke or leaking gasoline). Our expert team at Cross Timbers ENT, located in Arlington, Midlothian, and Mansfield, TX, helps assess patients who’ve lost their sense of smell, identify the causes, and provide appropriate interventions to alleviate symptoms.

What is hyposmia?

Hyposmia is the official medical term describing a partial loss of sense of smell. In many cases, hyposmia is accompanied by other nasal symptoms, such as congestion and sinus inflammation. Hyposmia can range from slow to immediate onset and last for an indefinite period, depending on the medical reason.

Why can the sense of smell suddenly be lost?

Symptoms of hyposmia can be gradual or immediate, depending on the root cause. The sense of smell stems from the olfactory system, which is the sensory system responsible for detecting sensory stimuli, such as environmental aromas and odors. The olfactory system then communicates messages to the brain for the rest of the body to respond to the detected smell. ENT (ears, nose, and throat) infections and injuries to the olfactory nerve can cause a slow or sudden decrease in the sense of smell.

Is loss of sense of smell connected to loss of sense of taste?

The olfactory system is closely associated with the gustatory system, which is the sensory system responsible for the sense of taste. In some instances, patients who lose their sense of smell may also have a decreased sense of taste depending on the cause.

What ENT conditions can cause hyposmia?

Some of the most common ENT conditions that can decrease or remove the sense of smell include:

  • Sinus infections

  • The common cold

  • Allergies

  • The flu

  • COVID-19

  • Nasal deformities

  • Nasal polyps

  • Deviated septum

  • Nasal obstruction

Our expert team at Cross Timbers ENT is familiar with each of these conditions, how it impacts the sense of smell, and what the proper treatment paths would involve so patients can continue living their lives to the fullest possible.

Can symptoms of hyposmia go away on their own?

Patients who experience infections, such as the common cold, may see symptoms decrease with time, and full sense of smell can be restored without professional medical interventions. For other patients who have complex nasal deformities, obstructions, or polyps, expert medical attention may be necessary to alleviate symptoms.

What treatments are available for hyposmia?

Our team approach involves providing our patients with multiple options for treating hyposmia. Patients will go through an initial evaluation to assess symptoms, collect a personal health history, and determine the cause of a gradual or sudden loss in sense of smell. One test that could be included is a scratch-and-sniff test to see if patients can identify common substances. Afterward, our team will provide patients with the right treatment options, which could range from prescribed antibiotics to ENT surgical procedures.

Get more information on assessment and treatment of hyposmia

If you think that you are experiencing symptoms of hyposmia or an unexplainable decrease in sense of smell, contact our expert team at Cross Timbers ENT and schedule a consultation today. Appointments can be made at any of our clinical locations in Arlington, Midlothian, or Mansfield, TX.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.