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Impaired Smell Sense Recovery: A Brief Guide By An ENT Specialist

Impaired Smell Sense Recovery: Impairment or complete loss of sense of smell, known as “Hyposmia” and “Anosmia” respectively, are serious medical conditions. Impaired sense of smell makes the person more vulnerable to consuming decomposed food, and inhaling smoke and gases, unknowingly. In addition, the disability to smell and taste puts the person at a higher risk of weight loss, anorexia and depression. It is, therefore, important to identify the problem at an early stage, and consult an ENT specialist before the condition gets any graver. To help, this brief read discusses the causes of smell loss, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Common Causes of Smell Impairment

The sense of smell manifests when odor stimulant molecules pass through the olfactory cells in nasal epithelium, olfactory nerves, making their way to the cribriform plate present in ethmoid bone, to olfactory bulb in the brain. Loss of smell can happen due to an obstruction or neurological damage in the nasal cavity or olfactory elements. In such cases, odorants are restricted from reaching the olfactory receptors, for varied reasons such as damaged peripheral olfactory receptors, nerve conduction pathways or central olfactory areas – all leading to smell impairment.

Other causes include:

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Viral infections
  • Head trauma
  • Nasal tumors and polyps
  • Ageing
  • Environmental toxins
  • Drugs used for treatment of neurological treatment and sinusitis
  • Congenital defects

Diagnosis: Tests to Examine Smell Loss

Before prescribing treatment to cure smell impairment, ENT specialists recommends some medical diagnosis. A number of tests are done to examine the reasons behind smell impairment and the seriousness of the problem. The primary tests advised for detection of olfaction include:


The University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) is a scratch-and-sniff test that uses 40 microencapsulated odorants on cards. The scoring scale is on a scale of 0-40; patients who score 34 to 40 have a normal sense of smell, 26 to 30 fall under moderate hyposmia, and 6 to 18 under anosmia.

Threshold Testing

The Connecticut Chemosensory Clinical Research Center (CCCRC) test is used to examine patient’s threshold to detect and identify different odor. It is an odor identification test to determine a patient’s ability to smell different odors and accordingly, find particular odors that a patient is unable to smell.

In addition to these two tests to identify and cure loss of smell senses, the Sino-Nasal Outcome Test 20 (SNOT-20) and CRS with Polyps tests are also often recommended by ENT doctors.


In case of a positive diagnosis, the patient may be advised varied treatment options, such as medicines in the form of topical corticosteroids, antibiotics, and nasal dips, or endoscopic surgery, for chronic cases.


Drugs such as antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants and topical corticosteroids are helpful for patients with moderate hyposmia. Patients who suffer from Hyposmia as a result of common viral or bacterial infection is usually curable with the help of standard antibiotics and antihistamines; whereas, patients with anosmia due to polyps and rhinosinusitis are advised to take topical corticosteroids.


When the traditional alternative medicines fail to cure anosmia, ENT specialists suggest an endoscopic sinus or nasal surgery. Endoscopic sinus and nasal surgery deliver a dramatic result by healing smell loss by the root, by removing the polyps causing the issue. A camera attached to the endoscope is used to locate and remove the polyps, which is a minimally invasive procedure.

Must Read: Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery Vs. Balloon Sinuplasty: Which One is Right for You?


Smell impairment may either be temporary or permanent, and therefore, it is imperative to ensure the exact problem and cause(s) are identified, before any of the possible treatments is sought. Any impairment of the sense of smell may lead to a number of problems, or if ignored for long enough, may even cause psychological disorders. If you or any of your loved ones is experiencing a loss of smell sense, feel free to contact our ENT specialist for a round of no-obligation free consultation.

We’re here to help

If you are frustrated by frequent sinus infections, persistent nasal congestion, or other sinus symptoms, Dr. Arjuna Kuperan and the team at Houston Advanced Nose & Sinus can help. Contact us today with any questions or to schedule your consultation.

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