Symptoms and causes

Symptoms

You may experience various symptoms such as:

  • complete loss of the sense of smell
  • reduced sense of smell
  • perceiving smells as foul odours
  • perceiving smells that are not there
  • changes in the sense of taste

Causes

The loss of smell can be caused by the following:

  • Swelling or congestion in the nose itself, which prevents the smell from reaching the olfactory fibres (e.g. due to common cold, nasal congestion, nasal polyps, sinusitis and a benign or malignant tumour in the nose).
  • Damage to the nerve fibres themselves: after a viral infection (e.g. Covid-19), a benign or malignant brain tumour, smoking, certain medication, an accident, poor position during birth and the onset of dementia.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is made based on a clinical exam with a nasal endoscopy, smell testing and a CT and/or MRI scan.

Treatment

Given that there are various causes for the loss of smell, your physician will prepare a tailored and individual treatment plan for you. A cortisone nasal spray and/or smell training are customary treatments.

Treatment centres and specialisations

Ear, nose, and throat diseases

Latest publication date: 11/08/2021
Supervising author: Dr Vermeiren Judith