Olfactory Disorders (Loss of sense of smell)

Loss Sense of SmellThe loss of any sense can be devastating and substantially reduce quality of life. Although the implications of losing vision or hearing are readily evident, an appreciation for the loss of one’s sense of smell (anosmia) is less apparent. Typically, we don’t appreciate the amount and richness of sensory information we experience through olfaction until it is lost. The smell of blooming flowers, the ocean, a spring day, a holiday meal cooking in the kitchen and countless other smells enrich our daily experience. Our sense of smell is also important for our safety in detecting smoke, gas or spoiled food. Olfaction can also influence and enhance other senses; it is estimated that much of what we consider taste actually is smell.

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Approximately 5% of the general population is considered anosmic and an additional 15% are considered to have a reduced sense of smell (hyposmia). Common causes of olfactory loss include sinonasal disease, trauma, neoplasm and viral upper respiratory infection. Quality of life is significantly reduced in patients with olfactory loss. The magnitude of this reduction in quality of life is highlighted by findings from clinical investigations indicating that approximately one fourth to one third of patients with olfactory disorders exhibit depressive symptoms. The loss of olfaction can therefore have a profound effect on a patient’s life.

At the North Florida Sinus Center, we assist patients who have experienced a loss in their ability to smell using a comprehensive diagnostic strategy to identify the root cause of the olfactory disorder and treat when appropriate.

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