Being able to smell is often taken for granted. When it is gone, there is a lot about life that is missed. One cannot, “take time to smell the roses”, smell coffee, chocolate or enjoy that new car smell. You also miss out on bad smells, you can’t smell bathroom odors, dog or cat poo. And you can’t tell if you need to take another shower (body odor) or if a person fails a smell check. Without your sense of smell, eating is not as fun or enjoyable. Going out to dinner is not the same.
Without a sense of smell, you may still be able to “smell a rat,” enjoy “the sweet smell of success,” “smell (something) fishy”, or “smell/stink to high heaven”. There are a lot of clichés related to your sense of smell.
For safety concerns, if you can’t smell, you won’t be able to tell if there is a fire in your house, if something is burning on the stove or if there is a gas leak. And without your sense of smell, you won’t appreciate the quote from the movies, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”.
Nasal blockage is a very common reason that you lose your sense of smell. Nasal polyps or nasal swelling blocks the nose so that whatever you are trying to smell can’t get in the nose. A CT scan is the way to tell if the nose is blocked.
Another cause of the loss of a sense of smell is damage from a severe cold or virus. Head trauma or brain injuries or tumors can also cause smell loss. These causes are usually permanent and not fixable.
Most nasal blockages that cause a sense of smell loss are treatable. If you have allergies or a cold, treat these, and your ability to smell recovers. If there are polyps, they are removed. If there is nasal swelling, trim the swelling and air can get into the nose. Most of the time, the blockages can be fixed and people will be back to normal the next day.