A change in your sense of smell can be unpleasant and ruin your appetite. Don’t worry, if you can’t smell at the moment it is probably nothing serious. Here’s how to get your sense of smell back.
Causes of lost or changed sense of smell
While a loss or change in sense of smell is unlikely to be anything dangerous, it could be caused by a number of pesky health issues. This includes:
• a cold or flu
• sinusitis (sinus infection)
• an allergy, like hay fever
• growths in your nose (nasal polyps)
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A loss of smell could mean a number of things.
For example, you might not be able to smell scents you normally can (anosmia).
On the other hand, you might start to smell things that aren’t there, such as burnt toast or smoke.
This is called phantosmia, and it can also affect how things taste.
Phantosmia is normally caused by an infection such as a cold, flu or sinusitis.
Phantosmia may also be caused by growths in your nose, epilepsy, migraines, and other more serious conditions.
However, if this persists, see your GP.
Another issue you might encounter with your sense of smell is hyposmia.
Hyposmia is when your sense of smell is reduced, and smells won’t be as strong as they normally are.
Smells can even change for you, is you are experiencing parosmia.
For example, a smell you love such as your favourite perfume or a fresh loaf of bread could become overpowering or smell rotten instead.
Again, visit your GP to chat about this. Parosmia could be caused by a head injury or brain trauma, or a bacterial or viral infection that needs treating.
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How to get my sense of smell back
The first step to getting your sense of smell back is treating the problem that has caused it.
Contact your GP about your other symptoms to figure out what might have caused the change in your sense of smell, and treat it.
If you have a high temperature and a new continuous cough with the change or loss of sense of smell ring NHS 111 because you may have coronavirus.
If the issues with your sense of smell persist once treating the problem causing a loss of smell, you should clean the inside of your nose.
The NHS site explains that you should rinse the inside of your nose with a saltwater solution.
Some pharmacies will sell sachets you can use to make a saltwater solution, but you can make it at home easily.
All you need to do is boil a pint of water and let it cool down. Then, mix a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda into the water.
Stand over the sink, pour a small amount of the solution into your hand using freshly washed hands.
Sniff the solution up one nostril at a time and let it run out of your nose. Repeat this a few times.
However, this will only help if your sense of smell is affected due to an infection or allergy.
Another treatment includes using steroid nasal sprays or drops, but these will only help if you have sinusitis or nasal polyps.
Alternatively, you could try smell training using a smell training kit. You can buy one of these from AbScent.
The kits include a selection of strong-smelling essential oils, and you should eventually be able to recognise what each one is.
You normally need to smell train twice a day for about four months to improve your sense of smell.
It is important to note that sometimes a sense of smell can’t be treated and may last a lifetime.
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