Sudden loss of sense of smell: 4 reasons for loss of sense of smell

These four reasons can lead to a loss of smell

viral respiratory infections

Respiratory infections are one of the most common causes of transient loss of smell. Even a simple cold can weaken the olfactory cells in the roof of the nose to the point that signals are no longer sent to the brain. In addition, when you catch a cold, the mucous membranes in your nose swell. It is difficult for us to breathe because the narrowed nasal airways are blocked. If fresh air no longer reaches the olfactory cells, they cannot, of course, transmit any olfactory information.

Loss of smell is especially common with COVID-19 infection. Loss of smell is now considered one of the main symptoms of the disease. Viruses cause severe inflammation of the olfactory cells and the supporting cells in the roof of the nose. Sometimes cells die and do not regenerate. Then it is sometimes severe limitation of the sense of smell or complete loss of smell.

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In diseases of the central nervous system, nerve cells in the brain die. In addition to the effects on the motor function of the muscles, one of the most common symptoms of the disease is a reduced sense of smell up to a complete loss of the sense of smell. In fact researchers foundThe loss of smell in many Parkinson’s patients occurred years before the typical symptoms of the disease appeared. On closer examination, it was found that the olfactory bulbs in the brain of people with a neurological disorder were only about half the size of people who did not have Parkinson’s disease.


Nasal polyps are benign tumors in the nasal mucosa. They grow from the mucous membrane in the turbinates in the form of droplets and are attached to the mucous membrane by a tissue stalk. Depending on the size of the tumor or the number of these polyps growing in the sinuses, nasal breathing can be severely restricted. A decrease in fresh air in the olfactory cells also means a loss of the sense of smell. Nasal polyps often cause headaches and a feeling of pressure in the middle of the face.

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Toxic environmental substances and pollutants

The olfactory cells in our olfactory system are so sensitive that some environmental toxins or pollutants can damage them. We all know about the pungent “odors” in the nose, for example from some cleaning agents. Such strong chemical irritants can damage the sensitive cells in our olfactory mucosa so badly that they die and cannot regenerate. This can affect our sense of smell. If the olfactory mucosa is chronically irritated by these substances, there is a risk of loss of nasal sense. Formaldehyde and pesticides are particularly harmful. But tobacco smoke is also a pure poison to our nose.


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