5 reasons other than COVID-19 that can lead to loss of smell
The novel coronavirus brought along several symptoms ranging from a mild fever, persistent cough, fatigue to a more mysterious ailment i.e. the loss of sense of smell and taste, also known as anosmia.
While it causes no severe complications in the body, the condition itself can be quite distressing and life-altering, affecting the quality of life in several ways.
Experts have also claimed that an impaired sense of smell can linger on days after a COVID-19 infection, which is why it is also a sign of long COVID.
However, the olfactory system can be affected by many other reasons. Other than the SARs-COV-2 virus, loss of sense of smell can be triggered by other factors. Find out what they are.
1. Nasal polyps
Nasal polyps are noncancerous growths in nasal passages that are painless, but discomforting. These can hang down to the opening of the nostrils or extend down to the throat region, causing blockage to the nasal passage, leading to congestion, breathing problems, headache, and loss of smell. Nasal polyps are a result of chronic inflammation, allergies, or certain immune disorders.
2. Allergies, sinusitis, flu, common cold
Just like COVID-19, various other respiratory viruses can lead to smell loss. Infections such as a regular common cold or a flu infection can cause anosmia, which can linger on for some time. Severe allergies and chronic sinus problems are some of the common causes of smell loss. Loss of smell and taste with allergies is caused by nasal congestion. Given that your nasal passage is blocked for whatever reason, it becomes difficult for the particles to reach the nerves in your nose responsible for smell functions.
The nasal cavity has olfactory receptors that send information through nerves to the brain, facilitating functions like smell. That said, conditions like anosmia can occur if the nerves suffer from any damage. That said, losing one’s sense of smell and taste can be a possible outcome of aging as the nerves and the receptors weaken over time, as people get older. The condition is also known as presbyosmia, which refers to the gradual degeneration of sense of smell due to ageing process, prevalent in those aged 70 and above.
4. Head injury
One can lose their sense of smell post a traumatic head/brain injury. This is because some parts of the brain are linked to the olfactory system. The orbitofrontal cortex, located above and behind the eyes, the insula, which lies beneath the ears, the piriform cortex, which is situated between the other two parts are associated with the smell functions. A head injury can lead to damage to any or all of these areas, causing anosmia.
5. Medications can also affect the sense of smell
Certain medications and toxic chemicals can also impair people’s sense of smell. Antibiotics such as ampicillin and tetracycline, decongestant nose sprays, some antidepressants and antihistamines can lead to anosmia.
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