Though many people take it for granted, the ability to smell provides many useful purposes. Odors can act as warning signs for fires, gas leaks, spoiled food, and the presence of chemicals in the air. Additionally, smells add variation to how food tastes. Individuals with anosmia completely lack a sense of smell. Though anosmia is not usually a sign of a serious condition, it can be problematic in everyday life. It can also potentially lead to weight loss, malnutrition, and depression.
To understand how anosmia occurs, it is helpful to understand how the body’s sense of smell works. The process of smelling begins when the nose inhales small molecules floating in the air. These molecules then attach to receptors in the nose’s mucous membranes, which stimulate nerves that connect to the brain. Issues impacting any steps in this process can lead to partial or complete loss of smell. Minor causes may resolve with time, while serious issues may not be treatable.
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