It may very well be the least appreciated of all of your five senses. Sadly, once you lose it, you’ll be horrified at how much of your world you lose touch with. While it might be nice walking into a public restroom without fear, your sense of smell does more than just detect scents and odors. While the exact explanation of how our sensory organs work, particularly our sense of smell, some of the causes of how we lose it may surprise you.


Did you know that your sense of smell is what helps you taste food? Without it the tasting organs on your tongue don’t really do much and it has even been suggested that certain involuntary parts of our brains smell emotion, such as fear or disgust[1]. Scientifically the loss of smell is known as anosmia. It can be caused by a number of different things. One of the most common reasons for a poor sense of smell is as simple as the common cold, but more serious causes exist. In some cases polyps in the nose or even a zinc deficiency can detract from your ability to smell[2]. There have also been reports of certain medications causing temporary anosmia.


Bone deformity can also rob you of your sense of smell. Often head trauma can destroy have inhibitive effects. Nerves in the lining of your nose are supposed to send information to your brain. If any part of this path is destroyed, your sense of smell will be gone. Another cause of loss can be age related. Alzheimer’s has been linked to the loss of smell, and a brain aneurism can destroy your olfactory pathway, and take your sense of smell with it[3]. While simple solutions such as an over the counter decongestant can mitigate most problems and olfactory neurons can regenerate.[4] Occasionally, anosmia can be permanent but in most cases not and may not cause a complete loss of smell.


Admittedly, none of us fancy the smell of a dirty bathroom, but considering the role that your sense of smell plays in shaping your grasp of the world around you. The occasional offensive odor may be a small price to pay.





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