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  • Writer's pictureDr. Mamata Rani Rout

Can flu damage your sense of smell permanently ?

The flu can damage your sense of smell. Fortunately, this is usually not permanent, though it may take it a while to return. Often, whether or not you regain your sense of smell depends upon the underlying cause. If extensive damage is done to your nasal nerves, it is more likely that the condition will be permanent.

Treatment of Anosmia or Loss of Smell
Flu induced anosmia is becoming a major problem in India

The medical term for a complete loss of smell is Anosmia, while a partial loss of smell is called Hyposmia. Typically, anosmia is not an indicator of a serious condition. However, because the sense of taste and sense of smell are closely related, anosmia may mean that you lose interest in eating, and as a result, lose too much weight. Therefore, you fail to get the important nutrients your body needs.  Anosmia affects 3 percent of the adult population over the age of 40, and the incidence increases with age. For those over 60 years of age, the rate rises to as much as 22 percent.

Reasons for loss of smell or Anosmia:

Any condition that obstructs your nasal passage or flow of air through your nose can cause you to lose your sense of smell.


These conditions include:

1. Common cold 2. Sinusitis 3. Chronic congestion 4. Nasal polyps

There are also neurological conditions that can cause anosmia. Although uncommon, the olfactory center of brain the part used for processing the sense of smell can be damaged by:

1. Alzheimer’s disease 2. A brain tumor 3. Head injury 4. Diabetes 5. Exposure to harmful chemicals such as insecticides 6. Certain medications 7. Zinc-containing nasal sprays (these have been taken off the market)


How can I help you :

ENT surgeons who have extensive expertise and can implement a plan to help you. The course of care depends upon the underlying cause. For example, if your problem is caused by chronic sinuses infections, then we will create a treatment plan to help you. In cases like this, your sense of smell should return at some point after the underlying problem is resolved.

If your anosmia is due to an underlying neurological condition, the good news is that your olfactory (sense of smell) nerves can regenerate, although it cannot be predicted when or to what extent. There’s also a large difference in the rate of regeneration among different individuals—for some it may take days, while for others, it may take years. There are some treatments available, but the key is to determine which one is right for you.

Dr. Mamatarani Rout

ENT Consultant. (Otolaryngologist)

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