Do sinus problems cause a diminished sense of smell?
Sinusitis is commonly associated with a diminished sense of smell. The nerves for smell are located in a very small area high in the nasal cavity. Even a small amount of congestion, swelling, or blockage in this location can cause a lessening of one’s sense of smell. (for instance, losing your sense of smell when you catch a cold). However, there are a number of other problems that can cause a loss of sense of smell, including tumors, and it is recommended that patients with a diminished sense of smell should be evaluated by a specialist.
How does smell work?
When you breathe in through your nose, odorant molecules stream in and travel through the nasal cavity up towards the olfactory groove located in the top part of the nasal cavity. Receptors on the mucosa (lining) in this olfactory (smell) cleft are activated and send messages to the Olfactory nerve (1st cranial nerve). The nerve then transmits the messages via the Olfactory tract to the smell section of the brain, where they are interpreted.
What causes a loss of smell?
Nasal congestion from a cold, allergy, sinus infection, or poor air quality are the most common causes of a lost sense of smell (anosmia). Other causes include:
Nasal Polyps, growths, or tumors
Injury to the Nose, or Head Trauma
Medical Conditions (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and more)
Radiation Treatment (head and neck cancers)
What are the symptoms of a lost sense of smell?
The most obvious sign of a lost sense of smell is that you will notice a change in how things smell. Also, smell and taste often go hand-in-hand. In either case, a lost sense of smell can be a more serious problem because you cannot tell if food is spoiled, nor can someone tell if something in the house is burning if you aren’t able to smell it.