April 01, 2022 2 min read

[Leer en Español]

The word anosmia is of Latin origin and its meaning refers to the fact that the person suffering from this disease cannot smell, that is, they suffer from olfactory blindness. The disease affects about 1% of the population and is usually caused by influenza, viral infections, and nasal or head injuries.

It can also be, very rarely, a congenital condition. Its treatment, time, and extent depend mainly on the causes. It can also be associated with a not very pleasant loss of the sense of smell. There are several types, these can be, anosmia, which is associated with the complete loss of the sense of smell, is functional, that is, it is completely useless, those who suffer from it do not feel practically any smell or aroma.

The next is hypozmia, which involves a partial loss of olfactory sensitivity. In the case of parozmia, it is a false or distorted unpleasant smell. And in cacozmia, patients suffering from it have an unpleasant olfactory experience. There is, of course, a Latin name for normal smell, normosmia, or in the case of supersensitive smell, hyperozmia. Finally, fantozmia is the sense of non-existent, or hallucinated smells.

Anosmia

Hypozmia ranges from a barely perceptible loss of smell to borderline anosmia. In the mildest cases, only the mildest odors in the environment, such as those from home, shops or even cars, disappear or are reduced to a barely perceptible range. Direct and strong odors are reduced by themselves. Instead, in the most severe cases, the odors of food, spices or perfumes become barely perceptible. In these cases, the most characteristic odors, such as garlic and orange peel, can also be maintained but are attenuated.

The olfactory center can be desensitized after a while, and in fact it is a necessary phenomenon, but in hypozmia fatigue occurs in a short time. Even in a few minutes, when the smell of a bouquet of flowers or a spice disappears. In these cases, it's common to have a vague sense of smell, where you know you can smell something, but you can't identify it.

Anosmia

In the case of parozmia, the distortion of the sense of smell occurs mainly along the lines of hypozmia after viral infections. In this case, the olfactory epithelium is damaged or the brain is unable to process the distorted information from the olfactory nerve. Unable to fully recognize mild odors, patients experience an unpleasant odor of chemicals, burning odor, and smoke.

If a sudden loss of smell occurs, there may even be severe anxiety in recognizing it. If it persists for a longer period, depression or panic disorder may develop. This can cause patients to perceive the world as empty or often dangerous, as they are unable to detect fires or gas leaks and spoiled food.

Smell can also be closely tied to emotions, and the loss of important olfactory patterns can quickly lead to depression. On the other hand, the loss of smell can be associated with the loss of libido, although this tends to be more frequent in patients who have been diagnosed with anosmia since birth.

Information compiled by Dezső Sándor.


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