The commonest 3 reasons for loss of sense of smell are

  • Ageing,

  • Having a viral infection of the olfactory nerves that take the sensation of smell from the lining of the nose to the brain,

  • Severe blocked nose.

The next most common cause is a head injury that tears the nerves.

Less common causes are problems in the brain like tumours or degenerative diseases.

The surgeon will examine your nose with an endoscope and may order a CT of the sinuses or an MRI of the brain to look for causes. A trial of tablet steroid (prednisolone 50mg per day for 5 days) or steroid nasal spray (mometasone 2 sprays each nostril daily for 6 weeks) may be recommended.

Losing the sense of smell can be tough to come to terms with as many enjoyable things in life include pleasant smells. There can be a loss of enjoyment or the sense of well-being. To try to live a good life despite the loss of the sense of smell try:

  1. Ensure enjoyment is coming from other sources. Plan nice things for yourself every day to make up for the loss of pleasant feeling from smelling and tasting. Cultivate interests that don’t revolve around food.
  2. Ensure meals are visually appealing with lots of colour and texture to improve your appetite.
  3. Be safe with gas appliances, food and smoke. Check gas appliances are turned off after use. With food, if in doubt, throw it out or have someone else check it for you. Change smoke detector batteries twice a year and check they are working once a month.
  4. Stop smoking cigarettes or avoid smokers.