Do you feel like your sense of smell is declining? Does it seem like forever since the scent of a spring rain caught you off guard, or the aroma from your coffee pot woke you up in the morning?
Our noses keep us safe and an inability to smell well can be a handicap. Without a working nose, you can’t tell whether food is spoiled by taste, detect body odor, recall scent-related memories, or even know whether your home is filling with smoke or other toxins.
Thankfully, this debilitating condition isn’t always permanent. Whether your sense of smell is muted after a respiratory infection like Covid-19 or you find yourself not noticing fragrances like you used to, there are scientifically proven ways to improve your sense of smell.
What are the Common Causes of Loss of Smell?
You’re not alone if you feel less sensitive to smells. An estimated one in four people over 40 deals with smell-related issues. These include hyposmia (partial loss of smell) and anosmia (complete loss of smell).
The actual percentage could be much higher, as smell research largely depends on self-reporting. Unlike other senses, there’s no diagnostic test available to judge smell sensitivity objectively.
Are you at risk of losing your sense of smell? Here are some of the most significant factors.
- Smoking: Tobacco smoke kills the brain cells that interpret scent information and diminishes your sense of smell, especially in the first thirty minutes after a cigarette.
- Respiratory infection: Nasal congestion inflames the inner lining of your nose and temporarily impacts your sense of smell.
- Allergies: Seasonal allergies leave you stuffed up and less able to smell.
- Dental Problems: Oral health issues like gingivitis and gum disease can harm your sense of taste and smell.
- Age: You start to lose olfactory nerve fibers in your nose as you age, and 12% of adults over 40 experienced some form of smell disfunction.
- Disease: Cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and dozens of other chronic health problems may damage your olfactory nerves or disrupt how your brain interprets scents. Sometimes the medications used to treat them include loss of smell as a side effect.
- Vitamin Deficiencies: A lack of vitamins such as A, B6, B12, and zinc are associated with a diminished sense of smell.
Can You Reverse Loss of Smell?
Here’s the good news—it’s almost always possible to reverse the loss of smell and improve your sensitivity to different scents.
While nerve cells are notoriously difficult to regenerate after injury, the olfactory neurons in your nose are designed to renew themselves periodically. This means the system can repair itself after damage or general degradation.
Improving your sense of smell naturally is a slow process, but there are steps you can take to speed things up.
How to Improve Your Sense of Smell: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways
Just as pumping iron helps you build muscle, putting your nose through its paces can improve or even restore your sense of smell.
These scientifically proven ways to improve your sense of smell may help you regain what you’ve lost, but they can also help you boost an average sense of smell to the exceptional.
1. Reestablish Your Baseline with Scent Elimination Exercises
One way to enhance your ability to smell is by taking strong scents out of your life—at least temporarily. Our noses become sensitized to daily smells over time to the point we no longer notice them.
Banning coffee, hard alcohol, hot sauce, onions and garlic, and even scented beauty products from your life for a few days will make these same scents all the more fragrant once you reintroduce them.
Award-winning winetasters often follow this method before competitions to ensure their nose is in peak condition.
2. Inhale Essential Oils
If a sinus infection or other illness has temporarily dulled your sense of smell, you can restore it faster through olfactory training. Sniff something with a strong fragrance for a few minutes several times a day, and you’ll help your system create new neural pathways for heightened smell sensitivity.
Olfactory training is usually done with essential oils, but carrying vials of liquid with you can get cumbersome and messy. BoomBoom essential oil Nasal Inhalers and Roll-Ons offers a great solution here.
They contain therapeutic-grade essential oils in stimulating scents like menthol, peppermint, and eucalyptus that will wake up your mind, improve your mood, and restore your sense of smell.
These Inhalers and Roll-Ons are designed to be portable. Carry one with you, and you can give your olfactory nerves a sensory boost at any time.
3. Identify Scents Around You with a "Scent Diary"
It’s hard to improve what you don’t track, so consider taking note of every scent you encounter over the day.
Use your phone to take notes whenever you encounter a new fragrance, from the shampoo in your morning shower to the acrid exhaust in the parking lot as you leave the office. Be as descriptive as possible and try to use words that paint a mental image.
The goal is to start noticing the scents you typically ignore, so you reawaken the part of your brain that processes them.
4. Get More Exercise
Research shows that your sense of smell gets heightened after exercise. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why, but getting in a gym session typically adds moisture to the inside of your nose and, which seems to stimulate the part of your brain associated with smell.
Even a brisk, ten-minute walk may be enough activity to boost your senses, and it may prevent you from developing smelling problems as you age, too.
5. Eat a Balanced Diet
Smell impairment is linked to nutritional deficiencies, especially zinc and vitamin B12. If you find yourself not tasting dinner as well, fill your plate with foods like beans, shellfish, salmon, tuna, seeds, nuts, dairy products, beef, liver, and even fortified cereals.
No matter your meal, strive to keep it easy to identify. You’ll experience better senses if your brain can identify what you’re eating based on how it looks.
It’s also smart to limit your salt and sugar intake because they can overwhelm your nose and dull its sensitivity. Try to cut out processed foods altogether at least once a week, and you’ll increase your sensitivity to natural scents and flavors.
Another suggestion? Stay hydrated. A dry mouth will diminish your sense of smell and taste.
6. Quit Cigarettes (and Maybe Alcohol)
A nicotine habit will diminish your sense of smell for the long-term by damaging your olfactory nerves. Stub out those cigarettes for good, and your nose will slowly restore itself.
There’s also evidence that your sense of smell declines in correlation to blood alcohol levels. Stay away from the bottomless margaritas on your next night out so you can actually enjoy your appetizers.
7. Seek Medical Treatment for Underlying Conditions
Sometimes, losing your sense of smell is a symptom of something more sinister. If you experience sudden, persistent changes in your perception of scents, it’s time to talk to an expert to rule out serious medical problems.
Meet with your doctor or an allergist to learn what the underlying cause of your symptoms could be. They may recommend lifestyle changes or switch up any medications that list scent loss as a side effect.
Learn To Restore Your Sense of Smell Naturally
You don’t need to accept a diminished sense of smell. Follow these seven scientifically-proven ways to improve your sense of smell, and you’ll be priming your nose to take in more of the natural fragrances around you.
P.S. Check out our line of essential oil products here, all designed to awaken your senses.