If you’re dealing with a loss of smell or decreased sense of smell, it’s time to find some answers! Can allergies cause loss of smell or is it something else? We’re here to answer your questions and give you some tips on how to regain your sense of smell.
Did you know a loss of smell is so common that there’s even a name for it? Anosmia is a temporary or permanent condition of a partial or total loss of smell. People with Anosmia can face other health-related issues due to their inability to smell things. Fortunately, once you know the cause and treatment options, you can usually gain your sense of smell back.
Let’s learn all about it so we can get back to smelling our morning coffee and fragrant flowers!
Do Allergies Cause a Loss of Smell?
Many of us know the stuffiness that occurs when we’re struggling with allergies. But, can allergies cause a loss of smell? Yes, and smell loss is actually common when someone suffers from nasal allergies such as allergic rhinitis. However, that’s not the only cause (which we’ll get to in a bit).
Anyone who suffers from allergy symptoms can experience difficulty smelling. But, it’s commonly seen that older patients are the ones who face long-term loss of smell. Usually, recurring allergy symptoms such as inflammation in the nose and nasal polyps are what transpires into a loss of smell.
According to Dr. Schwartz, a UB Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Allergy, the nerves responsible for connecting our sense of smell with our brain are in the nose. During an allergic reaction, those nerves become swollen and cut off your smell sense.
Allergies don’t always lead to a loss of smell and if they do, it’s often only temporary. The worry comes when it becomes long-lasting.
How to Tell if Loss of Smell is from COVID-19 or Allergies
With COVID-19 cases still occurring, we know that one common side effect of the virus is loss of smell. So, how do we know if we’re experiencing this symptom because of COVID-19 or an allergen?
Dr. Schwartz also tells us several other things about what causes olfactory issues. When allergies are the reason, nasal congestion will also occur. Additionally, the smell loss happens gradually.
Another way to understand if allergies could be the cause is to consider your history. Have you experienced olfactory issues before? Were you suffering from allergies?
If your smell loss is a symptom of COVID-19, you’ll likely have other symptoms of the virus. These include:
- Fever or chills
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Body or muscle aches
- Loss of taste (and smell)
- Sore throat
- Upset stomach including nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Runny nose
Keep in mind that COVID-19 vaccinations are said to help lessen symptoms of the virus. Of course, consult with a medical professional if you’re experiencing a new loss of smell along with other COVID-19 symptoms.
Other Common Reasons for Loss of Smell
As if losing your sense of smell wasn’t frustrating enough, there are other common reasons we must consider aside from allergies and Coronavirus. The good news? Once you get to the bottom of the cause, then you’re closer to finding a solution. We’ll actually share some treatment ideas, too.
Various medical conditions, daily habits, and infections can affect your sense of smell. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Nasal polyps or deformities
- Illness such as a cold, flu, and sinus infection
- Dental issues
- Use of certain medications such as antihistamines and decongestants
- Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
- Neurological diseases such as Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s
- Brain tumors, injury, or surgery
- Exposure to chemicals including insecticides or solvents
Daily behaviors can also affect our olfactory system. These include drinking alcohol in excess, smoking cigarettes, and abusing cocaine.
Tips for Improving Your Sense of Smell
Dealing with a loss of smell can be extremely frustrating. Fortunately, there are several ways to remedy the problem.
1. Lifestyle Changes
If your olfactory issues are a result of regular habits, changing things up is something to consider. This would apply to things such as smoking, lack of nutrition, or taking certain medications.
If you believe a prescribed medicine could be the problem, you should always consult with your healthcare provider. When it comes to your diet, consider consuming more Vitamins A, B6, B12, and zinc. These foods include fish, beef, dairy, eggs, nuts, and whole grains.
2. Rectifying a Medical Condition
As we mentioned, several medical conditions can lead to olfactory problems. If you have an underlying medical issue, getting to the root of it and correcting it can make a huge difference. In the meantime, the following remedies can help provide some relief.
3. Smell Training
A practice where you smell the same fragrances consistently is called olfactory training. During this, you’ll take quick and delicate sniffs of a strong aroma for a few minutes every day. Be mindful of the smells and even write them down. You’ll want to use scents with a powerful smell like spices, essential oils, and garlic.
4. Nasal Inhalers
Following up on olfactory training, nasal inhalers are a great way to improve your sense of smell. These come in a small tube that has a cotton wick doused in essential oils and menthol. These are easy to use anywhere and are ideal to take on the go.
The fragrance helps reteach your senses to work during olfactory training. Also, the essential oils work to stimulate sensory nerves in the nose. Nasal inhalers can help open up airway passages to relieve nasal congestion, too.
Read more: What is a Nasal Stick and What are They Used For?
5. Exercise More
According to this study, exercise can help with olfactory impairment. While strenuous physical activity isn’t required, some form of regular exercise can be very helpful to our entire health including our sense of smell.
Our blood flow increases when we do even simple exercises such as yoga, aerobics, walking, and running. This helps nasal passages to remedy congestion.
To ensure you can get back to enjoying your sense of smell, here are some things you can do:
- Take note of any unusual symptoms you’re experiencing, including your loss of smell.
- Consider if it seems like allergy symptoms, COVID-19 symptoms, or something else. Remember it could be something minor or it could be something to discuss with a healthcare professional.
- Find safe remedies for relief today. These may include exercising, using an all-natural nasal inhaler, and improving your diet.
- Be mindful of what you can and can’t smell. Remember, taking mental or physical notes of what you smell can help retrain your olfactory system.
So much pleasure comes from being able to smell the great scents around us. Dealing with a loss or lack of smell can be very frustrating. Getting to the bottom of your smell loss can help you figure out how to remedy the issue. Hopefully, with our insight and tips, you can get back to experiencing all of your favorite smells in no time!