Loss of smell is a symptom that can be caused by respiratory infections (such as COVID-19 and influenza) or by problems that cause airway obstruction or affect the central nervous system (such as a deviated septum, tumors, or kidney disease) of Alzheimer’s disease.
Depending on its cause, loss of the sense of smell (technically called anosmia) may also be accompanied by symptoms such as headache, fever, cough, memory loss, and even seizures. Better understand what anosmia is.
When the loss of smell is not related to a respiratory infection or persists for several weeks even after recovery from a respiratory infection, consultation with an otolaryngologist or general practitioner is recommended.
What causes loss of smell
The main causes of loss of smell include:
COVID-19 is an infection that causes a loss of smell due to an overreaction of the immune system, which reduces the number of olfactory neurons, the cells in the nose responsible for identifying odors.
Likewise, COVID-19 can also cause dry cough, fever, muscle pain, headache, rhinitis, and throat swelling. View more information about COVID-19 symptoms.
To do: Treatment for mild COVID-19 may include medications prescribed by your doctor, such as fever reducers, pain relievers, or anti-inflammatory drugs. By itself, severe COVID-19 must be treated in a hospital, with oxygen and intravenous drugs. Learn about treatments for COVID-19.
2. Flu and colds
Flu and colds are illnesses that cause inflammation of the mucous membranes of the airways, increase mucus production, and cause symptoms such as nasal congestion, loss of smell, cough, runny nose, and sore throat.
To do: Your doctor may recommend medications such as acetaminophen, metamizole, or ibuprofen to relieve flu symptoms. Likewise, drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and washing your nose with saline are strategies that can help with recovery. Check out other tips to recover from the flu faster.
Sinusitis is inflammation of the paranasal sinuses located around the nose and eyes, causing symptoms such as loss of smell, headache, runny nose, and a feeling of heaviness in the forehead and cheekbones. Learn how to recognize the symptoms of sinusitis.
To do: Treatment of sinusitis should be done by a doctor and includes the use of nasal sprays, anti-flu medications, corticosteroids, and oral antibiotics. Some home measures, such as sprays, drinking warm tea, and drinking plenty of water, are also natural ways to help relieve sinusitis.
4. Nasal polyps
Nasal polyps are abnormal growths of tissue in the nose that prevent aromas from reaching the olfactory area, leading to loss of smell, in addition to other symptoms such as persistent rhinitis, nasal congestion, and nasal pain. A persistent mind.
To do: Treatment can be done with an aerosol corticosteroid, such as fluticasone or budesonide, which must be ordered by an otolaryngologist. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend surgery to remove the polyps.
Head trauma is an injury to the skull, usually caused by a violent blow to the head, which can cause injury to the nose or paranasal sinuses, block the passage of air, and can even cause damage to the olfactory area of the brain, causing temporary or permanent Loss of smell.
In addition, head trauma can cause loss of consciousness and/or memory, confusion, severe headaches, seizures, and bleeding on the head or face.
To do: Treatment varies depending on the severity of the injury and may recommend painkillers, sutures, and/or dressings, or surgery may be required to relieve pressure on the head and control bleeding.
6. Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease in which patients have difficulty remembering recent information, become disoriented, and gradually lose the ability to perform daily tasks and/or care for themselves.
Alzheimer’s disease can also cause a loss of smell early in the disease. It is believed that this condition occurs due to high concentrations of neurofibrillary tangles, structures formed from abnormal proteins that accumulate within neurons in the olfactory area of the brain, causing the alteration.
To do: Treatment should be as directed by your neurologist, who may recommend medications to relieve symptoms and slow disease progression, such as donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine. Better understand treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Deviated nasal septum
A deviated septum occurs when the wall that separates the nostrils changes, which can occur due to a blow to the nose or inflammation of the area, causing symptoms such as breathing difficulties, loss of smell, headaches, and excessive fatigue. . Learn more about a deviated septum.
To do: Your otolaryngologist may prescribe nasal decongestants and antihistamines to relieve symptoms. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend septoplasty, a surgery that helps correct a deviated septum.
8. Brain tumors
Brain tumors occur with the growth of abnormal cells in the brain or in the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and can cause loss or decreased sense of smell, severe headaches, blurred vision, paralysis, lack of balance and even seizures.
To do: Treatment varies based on the size, type, grade and location of the tumor. In this case, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove the tumor or radiation or chemotherapy.
9. Zinc deficiency
Zinc deficiency can affect organs such as the skin, bones, and nervous system, leading to, for example, loss of smell and taste, diarrhea, photophobia, hair loss, and wounds that take a long time to heal.
To do: Treatment of zinc deficiency is through the use of supplements such as chelated zinc, zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate or zinc acetate. However, the type and dosage of supplements vary according to each person’s nutritional needs, so they should only be used under the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist.
When to see a doctor
When the loss of smell is not associated with a respiratory infection such as the flu, cold, COVID-19 or sinusitis or a deviated septum, a visit to an otolaryngologist or general practitioner is recommended.
In addition, if you still experience loss of smell after recovering from a respiratory infection, it is recommended to see a doctor.