Is it normal to lose my sense of smell as I age?

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Q. I am 72, and over the past year I have begun to lose my sense of smell. Is this a normal part of aging?

A. Some loss of sensitivity to smells — also known as anosmia — is normal as we get older, but there may be another explanation. The ability to smell depends on a healthy lining of the nasal cavity, open nasal passageways, and normal function of the olfactory (smell) nerves. A problem with one or more of these can lead to loss of smell. The most common causes are nasal problems, like nasal polyps, blocked sinuses, and seasonal allergies. These can be detected by a routine examination, although you may need to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist for a more extensive exam.

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