After telling someone that I can’t smell, sometimes I’m asked how I happened to lose my sense of smell. Usually, the people who ask this question know someone, like a grandmother or aunt, who have lost their sense of smell. But as far as I can remember, I’ve never been able to smell. So losing it (like…oops…where did it go?!) isn’t really a question that applies to me.
Losing part or all of one’s ability to smell is quite different from being born without the sense entirely (congenital anosmia). And there are varying levels and names that go along with one’s ability to smell. For example, if a person only experiences a partial loss of smell or a diminished loss of smell, the condition is called hyposmia. If the person is older and slowly losing the ability to smell (which is very common by the way), then the condition is referred to as presbyosmia. There are many other distinguishing factors that I won’t go into here, but the causes of each vary.
For hyposmia, the cause can be anything from a sinus infection to nasal polyps, a side effect of medication, head trauma, or in some cases tumors.
For congenitals, however, the causes are a bit sketchy. In rare cases the cause can be an inherited disorder called Kallmann syndrome (which I don’t have). Some doctors theorize that the olfactory nerves were never properly developed, or damaged somehow, or simply do not “communicate” properly with the brain. Most of the time though the cause cannot be determined, which is the case with me. Oh, and they have a name for that too…idiopathic anosmia.
So, in conclusion, I do not know why I have never been able to smell a thing. All I know is that it is NOT A TUMOR! I did the CAT scan thing many years ago.