Anosmia, a loss of the ability to smell, can be caused by a wide variety of things and the treatment depends on the underlying cause. Since one of the leading causes of anosmia is temporary infection or inflammation, it should come as no surprise to learn that common anosmia treatments can include anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics. Patients with anosmia will usually start their care with a general practitioner and may be referred to specialists.
People can lose their sense of smell as a result of infections, inflammations, brain tumors, drug use, nasal polyps, neurodegenerative diseases, and a wide variety of other factors. Some people have an impaired sense of smell as a result of occupational exposures, and others are born lacking sensitivity for particular odors. When a patient presents with anosmia, the first step in anosmia treatment is determining the cause. Patients will be interviewed and medical imaging studies and other tests may be used to collect diagnostic clues.
Sometimes, the best anosmia treatment is no treatment. Many minor nasal inflammations and infections resolve on their own. While the patient is sick, the sense of small may be impaired, but once the patient's condition clears up, the patient should be able to smell again. Treatments like medications and nasal irrigation can be used to treat more stubborn problems. A patient with a chronic history of nasal blockages may be considered for surgery to remove nasal polyps, address anomalies in the structure of the sinuses, or treat other nasal abnormalities.
If there is no physical blockage in the nose to explain the patient's sensory impairment, other options may need to be pursued. Medical imaging studies of the brain can be used to check for tumors and patients may also be given a full neurological exam to look for signs of neurological deficits. If a patient has a disease affecting the brain, treatment or management of the disease can help with the sense of smell. In other cases, the loss may be permanent as a result of damage to neurons in the brain and no anosmia treatment is possible.
Anosmia treatment options are varied, depending on the cause. Sometimes several options are available for patients to choose from. When evaluating choices for anosmia treatment, patients may find it helpful to ask for information about the cause of the anosmia, alternative treatments, and the likely outcomes of various treatment options. For patients with neurological or physiological causes for anosmia, it is advisable to consult a specialist for information about treatments.