Anosmia is the medical name for the partial or complete loss of the sense of smell, and whilst this may not seem like a very pressing problem, it can cause a great deal of upset for those that suffer with it. According to the NHS, 50 percent of anosmia cases could potentially be reversed, but early diagnosis and treatment are crucial.
Anosmia can be caused by many different things, but the main causes are a viral infection of your respiratory tract, hay fever, certain medication, drug use and brain tumours.
The main symptom of anosmia is a loss of smell, but it may not always disappear straight away. You may notice a change in the way things smell at first. You may also notice that they do not smell as strong as they used to. If you notice a long-term change in your sense of smell, then please consult a medical professional. In order to diagnose your condition a doctor will need to take blood samples, look at the inside of your nose and may want to perform a nasal endoscopy. This is where a tiny camera is inserted into the nasal passages.
Once anosmia has been officially diagnosed by a doctor, then, if your case is reversible, they will be able to advise you of the best way to proceed with your treatment.
The treatment of your anosmia will depend entirely on the cause of it. For example, if you have a deviated nasal septum then you may have to undergo a corrective operation to straighten it out.
A doctor may prescribe decongestants in order to remove any blockages from the nasal passages and reduce any inflammation that has occurred. You may have to take these for up to six months, and whilst you may not get your full sense of smell back, you may find it has greatly improved.
If your anosmia is caused by hay fever, then the doctor will prescribe a course of antihistamines. These will help protect your nose from the effects of the pollen by reducing the allergic reaction that occurs during hay fever. They may offer you a nasal spray to help with hay fever, too. This can be non-steroidal or steroidal; using this in conjunction with the antihistamines will greatly reduce hay fever symptoms.
Your doctor may refer you for an operation known as a BiCASS, which stands for bilateral computer aided endoscopic sinus surgery. During this procedure a surgeon will open up your sinuses and completely clear them, which will allow any medication to have a better effect. Although the surgery is highly effective and reduces the need for further procedures, particularly if you have had polyps removed, it still needs to be used in conjunction with medication.
If you suffer with anosmia or believe that you have developed it, please consult a doctor for the best course of treatment.