Thursday, November 08, 2007
What the nose doesn't know
Imagine not being able to smell a rose or the pungent aroma of a cup of coffee? As we age, our ability to smell diminishes. In some cases, as much as 60 percent as we reach our so-called golden years. Our smell peaks in our late 20s or early 30s, and gradually declines after that.

Some people are more vulnerable to infections or viruses that cause them to lose their sense of smell altogether. The condition is called anosmia. The viruses seem to attack the nerve cells, which are located in the upper part of the nasal cavity, causing the loss of smell.

What's it like to lose your sense of smell completely? Try this: Take three jellybeans, with strong flavors such as licorice, banana, and coffee. Put them all in a baggie, close your eyes and pick one. Then hold your nose tightly and place the jellybean in your mouth. You can tell it's sweet, but I bet you can't figure out the flavor. Now let go of your nose and smell the aroma? See? If you can't smell, you can't enjoy the pleasure of food.

It's not just food. Think of what it would be like if you couldn't smell smoke or natural gas -- it could be dangerous.

Women usually develop anosmia in their 40s or 50s after suffering from a serious sinus infection, usually brought on by a common cold. Although some men contract it, middle-age women are more susceptible, because, doctors think, their immune systems are more fragile as they go through menopause.

Physicians say the condition can be treated with medication, but the medicine does have side effects. Many people take vitamins loaded with antioxidants to regain their smell, but it takes time and in most cases the smell never comes back 100 percent.

So when you smell cauliflower cooking on the stove this Thanksgiving, don't think, "Ewwwww"; appreciate the fact you can smell it at all.
I watched with interest the story on the woman who had lost her smell after a sinus infection. I, too, experienced this in 2001. I eventually saw a neurosurgeon with the thought that I had a tumor. Fortunately, I did not. This was a painful time in my life. Not only could I not smell foods, etc., I would have phantom smells. Thankfully, my smell has returned to almost normal. I have the utmost sympathy for the woman in your story, but, I was excited to hear that I was not going crazy.
wow that is a really interesting thing! i am going to try the jelly bean thing just to see what happens! thanks to whoever posted this story it is pretty darn cool!

from an admiring viewer!
That is not so at all. I am almost 90 and I have a great nose. I can even tell if someone has eaten french fries in a car the following day. Or if someone has eaten chocolate in a certain area.
I lost my sense of smell in 2004. I was also checked for a tumor, but none, thank goodness. For almost 2 years I could not smell anything and like Vicki, I had phantom smells. It was especially difficult to prepare food for family and friend gatherings. Of course, I wasn't shy about my situation and pretty much took the "no fail" items. As you can imagine, they were very cooperative; for their own protection. ha ha
As of today, I have only 85% of my smell and taste senses back. Unfortunately, I still have issues with "odors", so I have to be careful with foods and enviroments that could be unsafe.
I have severe allergies and after numerous sinus infections as well as three sinus surgeries, I do not have very much of a sense of smell. I noticed that my sense of smell has drastically decreased and did not recover at all after my second sinus surgery, which was pretty traumatic since I had to have a bag of saline solution attached to a tube leading into my maxillary sinus (a hole was drilled into my skull about where my eyebrow meets my nose in order for the tube to be placed there) and the saline would flush all the blood, mucus, etc out through my nose and mouth every day for six days.
One of my doctors once told me that he thought that due to all the trauma from my surgeries, especially from the second surgery, and the frequent sinus infections that I have probably sustained too much damage to the nerve cells that control the sense of smell to be able to regain any significant sense of smell.
Sometimes I am grateful not to be able to smell anything like when I'm changing a poopy diaper so I guess there is always a silver lining.
I really don't remember how long it has been for me, but both my sense of taste and smell became very diminish several years ago. I mentioned this to my Doc, but she passed it off and never said anything about it.

I do remember after moving the gas stove back in the mid 90's, I had to have the girlfrind check for gas leaks, I couldn't smell any. I even turned the knob up all the way before lighting the pilot to test it again, nothing. Yes, I let it air out before lighting the pilots.

Really strong perfume, I avoid the person, for some reason it burns my nose.

As for taste, I can taste sweet, sour, etc, but not much else, so I use a lot of black pepper or a dash of hot sauce.
I went to Dr. she sent me to nuerologist, no tumor. still no sense of smell. What's the remedy?
Steroids? antibiotics? wait and see? Help!!!! I am 52 and have not had a sinus infection, what to do?
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