Sunday, December 11, 2005

anosmia( loss of smell)

anosmia (loss of smell)
Anosmia is a total loss of the sense of smell. The causes can be varied but most commonly there is an interference with the intranasal diffusion of the odorous particles. This is mostly due to obstruction from swelling due to allergies, the common cold, or nasal polyps. In the elderly, senile atrophy of the nasal mucous membranes is a prime contributing factor in anosmia. Intracranial lesions from tumors, vascular lesions, head injury, or infections may also be found. In a patient with severe atrophy or crusting of the nasal mucosa, both trigeminal and olfactory (nose) nerve endings may be destroyed. In testing for anosmia, two odors are used: One is a strong trigeminal stimulant (ammonia) and the other a pure olfactory stimulus (freshly ground coffee). Normally, a person can easily detect both ammonia and coffee. In organic anosmia, the patient cannot detect coffee but does note a tingling or slight burning with ammonia. There is no specific treatment for anosmia, but control of the underlying intranasal disease processes often result in recovery of the sense of smell.

Ballenger, J. J. Diseases of the Nose, Throat, Ear, Head and Neck, 13th ed. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1985.


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