what is loss of smell and taste?
Before the COVID era, there were approximately 300,000 people in the Netherlands who had either a loss of smell or taste. In most cases it is an olfactory disorder. The sense of smell has disappeared completely (anosmia) or partially (hyposmia). Other forms of decreasement of smell are:
- Cacosmia; a foul odor in the nose
- Parosmia; the smells are perceived differently than before
- Phantosmia; hallucinations of smell
- Agnosmia; not being able to name the smell well
- Hyperosmia; odors smell much more intense than normal.
what is the cause of reduced smell and taste?
Conductive loss of smell:
This means that the smells cannot properly reach the olfactory nerves in the nose. As a result, you can smell less well. Think of a stuffy nose due to irritation of the nasal mucosa or a crooked nasal septum, which can lead to loss of smell and/or loss of taste.
Sensorineural loss of smell:
A sensorineural cause is when the olfactory stimuli are not properly guided by the olfactory nerves from the nose to the brain, or cannot be processed properly through the brain.
Some people are born without smell and/or taste. As a result, they can’t smell or smell badly from childhood.
What to do about loss of smell and taste?
The treatment of a loss of smell or taste is of course very dependent on the cause. If no direct cause is found for the loss of smell and/or taste, then olfactory training can be prescribed by the ENT specialist. Scientific research has shown that training the olfactory system might have a beneficial effect on the recovery of smell and taste.
Which medicine for loss of smell and taste?
If there is loss of smell and taste due to a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. In case of irritation of the nasal mucosa, your doctor can prescribe an anti-inflammatory tablet (prednisone) or an anti-inflammatory nasal spray to inhibit this irritation.
What possible disorders can cause loss of smell or taste?
The reduction of smell and taste can have various reasons for being disturbed, as mentioned above. In order to start a good treatment, a good examination by the ENT doctor is recommende before starting any treatment. Causes of a decreased sense of smell and taste can be:
- Trauma of the head
- Allergy (inhalational allergens)
- Nerve damage due to tumor
- Polyps in the nose (poliposis nasi)
- Nasal septum crookedness (septal deviation)
- Drug abuse
- Sinus infection (rhinosinusitis)
- Nasal drops addiction (otrivinism)
- Nasal valve problem
Loss of smell after a corona infection (Coronavirus / Covid-19 infection)
Loss of smell after a corona infection is a common symptom. One of the symptoms of the coronavirus or Covid-19 infection is that people experience less or no smell. It seems that this phenomenon is more common in the younger patients infected with the coronavirus. In 8 out of 10 cases, this is also accompanied by a loss of taste. Fortunately, the loss of smell and taste usually disappears within 10 days. However, in some cases it can last for months.
When to contact us?
Since one need the right instruments for a good assessment of the nose, the ENT doctor quickly comes into the picture for the treatment of loss of smell and taste. If, after 4 weeks, the treatment of the GP has not resulted in any improvement in the loss of smell and/or taste, it is wise to request a referral to the ENT specialist.
Information from the Dutch Association for ENT Surgery
This patient information has been compiled with the utmost care. It concerns general information. No rights can be derived from this information.
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