What Are the Treatments for a Loss of Sense of Smell?

Written by beth wankel
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What Are the Treatments for a Loss of Sense of Smell?
If you have lost your sense of smell you may be able to regain it. (Human nose macro shot image by Gleb Semenjuk from Fotolia.com)

The loss of one's sense of smell is called anosmia. Anosmia can be caused by a number of factors such as trauma to the nose, chemical inhalation, smoking, allergies, certain medications, zinc deficiency, infections, tumours, polyps or certain diseases. In most cases it is treatable. If you think you are suffering from anosmia, you should speak with your doctor.

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Your anosmia might be caused by an infection. To treat the infection, your doctor can prescribe one of several antibiotics and other medications such as nasal sprays. If the infection fully clears up, your sense of smell should return. If you are prone to sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), speak with your doctor about prevention methods.

Allergy Medication

Anosmia is sometimes caused by severe nasal allergies. Your doctor can prescribe powerful allergy medications and antihistamines to help treat your allergy symptoms. Over time, your sense of smell can recover if your allergies are under control.


It's sometimes possible for anosmia to be caused by polyps in the sinuses. These must be surgically removed. Your sense of smell will likely return after surgery. Occasionally anosmia is caused by tumours, which can be either surgically removed or treated with radiation. Sense of smell often does not return after surgery for tumours.

Smoking Cessation

People who smoke often lose some or all of their sense of smell. Chemicals in cigarettes can kill nerve endings over a long period of smoking. If you quit smoking for a prolonged period of time or permanently, your sense of smell can gradually return.

Zinc Supplements

The mineral zinc is essential for the sense of smell to operate properly. Anosmia can result from zinc deficiency. Taking a zinc supplement can help restore the sense of smell for those whose anosmia has resulted from this deficiency. This method is often used in conjunction with other treatment methods.


Recently, acupuncture has been shown to provide results to patients suffering anosmia. In a recent small study, approximately 50 per cent of patients treated for anosmia with acupuncture saw improvement. Those failing to find success with other treatments should consider acupuncture as an option.

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