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Smell disorders: When your sense of smell goes astray

August 13, 2021

About the Author

photo of Eric Holbrook, MD

Eric Holbrook, MD, Contributor

Eric H. Holbrook, M.D. graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelors in Science and from the State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse with a Masters in Science and a Degree in Medicine. … See Full Bio
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January 21, 2019

I lost the sense of smell many years ago. But at the same time I can smell someone wearing profumes or smoking a sigaret miles away, and so the car exost fumes and other big smell.
Any explanation.
Yes I had a head injuries, sinusite infections on and off. And an awful smell in my nose that was cured with ormones or steroids, for a couple of weeks.
All this does not depress me as it has been over 20 yrs.
I enjoy life and keep going as there is more to smell the roses.

Golda Freundlich
December 26, 2018

Starting 7 yrs. ago whenever I am exposed to cigarette smoke I experience a “dirty ashtray” smell with every breath I take for EXACTLY 2 weeks. In recent years it has progressed to other things that burn….incense , barbecue. I have seen ENT to no avail. Contacted Monell Institute (they have no familiarity with the symptoms). Can’t find comparable symptom on the internet . Have tried everything I can think of…saline solution,etc. Attacks create mild headache and crabby mood. Anyone?

Homero Rodriguez
December 18, 2018

How do you test the sense of smell?

Ted Almon
December 26, 2018

You call the “Smell and Taste Center” at the University of Pennsylvania hospital in Philadelphia. They will schedule you for a full day battery of tests and a consultation. It may or may not be covered by your insurance, so check, but they do accept private payment.

Ted Almon
December 17, 2018

I lost my sense of smell completely over a decade ago and, while I am no longer upset too much about it, it is intriguing to think it could somehow be restored. It was caused by use of a zinc based, over the counter cold medication that was taken off the market after thousands of cases were reported. I have travelled extensively seeking treatment but I have been told after this amount of time it is hopeless. True?

Sheila Rogoff [age 95]
December 12, 2018

I’ve lost most of my sense of smell. In addition to the causes you mentioned , I’e been suspicious of my use of calcitonin salmon, daily. I’ve been on it for about twenty years, for osteoporosis.. The dosage is one puff in each nostril, on alternating days. I have no way of knowing if I have benefitted or not. Any thoughts?

December 12, 2018

My problem is the exact opposite. Since September 27th I now have hyperosmia due to having surgery and because of the anesthesia my sense of smell has basically gone “haywire.” I’m going to see an ENT but from what I’ve read on the internet this is not curable and it is basically ruining my life. I can’t imagine it lasting that long (the rest of my life.) I am 71 plus years old and I’m in fairly good health and at the same time, somehow, all of a sudden have an irregular heartbeat. I totally believe this is not coincidental. Since the surgery and because of it, I’ve had a chain reaction of other things as well. To say this is depressing is an understatement! Anyone have any idea about this? It is absolutely horrible!

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