What is Hyposmia?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Hyposmia is a condition in which an individual experiences a decrease or complete loss in the ability to smell. This loss of smell can come about due to several health factors, some of which can be treated and prevent any additional loss of smell capability. However, permanent loss of at least part of the ability to smell is not unusual.

Allergies may cause hyposmia.
Allergies may cause hyposmia.

There is some relation between hyposmia and the condition known as anosmia. With anosmia, the individual is unable to detect odors but retains the ability to smell in general. This condition involves a total compromise of olfactory capabilities, including the inability to detect odors as well as a loss of smell.

Nasal polyps may cause hyposmia.
Nasal polyps may cause hyposmia.

Several conditions can lead to hyposmia. Allergies are one common cause for the complete or partial loss of smell. In some cases, when the allergy is treated, the individual begins to experience a reclaimed ability to recognize some odors, while in others the sense of smell is permanently diminished.

Hyposmia may occur as a result of trauma to the head.
Hyposmia may occur as a result of trauma to the head.

Along with allergies, this disorder may be caused by some type of trauma to the head, such as in an auto accident or a fall. When trauma is the root cause, the patient may eventually recover from the condition, depending on the extent of damage that took place and the after-effects of that damage. However, there are no guarantees that the smelling ability will ever fully return.

Auto accidents can lead to hyposmia.
Auto accidents can lead to hyposmia.

Nasal polyps are another cause for hyposmia. The polyps can cause permanent damage that is not reversed even when the polyps are surgically removed. However, removing the polyps is important to preserving any lingering sense of smell that the patient may retain at the time of the diagnosis.

Viral infections can also result in a temporary or permanent state of hyposmia. In some cases, the loss of smell only lasts as long as the infection is active. Once the infection is brought under control, the ability to detect odors is restored, sometimes completely. However, there are some examples of viral infections that were allowed to continue for extended periods of time, leading to permanent loss of the sense of smell.

Millions of people around the world experience this condition. As research continues, some studies indicate a possible connection between the presence of hyposmia and the eventual development of Parkinson’s Disease. More studies are underway to determine if there is sufficient data to confirm this condition is, in fact, an early warning sign of Parkinson’s.

Fortunately, when the underlying cause for the loss of smell is detected early on, there is a good chance of recovery. In other cases, patients learn to live without the ability to enjoy the scent of fresh flowers or the aromas of their favorite foods.

Hyposmia is characterized by the loss of smell.
Hyposmia is characterized by the loss of smell.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

ImDeity

Hyposmia can also be an early indicator of Alzheimer's disease. I wonder what other neurological diseases can be detected with a loss of smell

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