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How Did You Lose Your Sense of Smell?

After telling someone that I can’t smell, sometimes I’m asked how I happened to lose my sense of smell. Usually, the people who ask this question know someone, like a grandmother or aunt, who have lost their sense of smell. But as far as I can remember, I’ve never been able to smell. So losing it (like…oops…where did it go?!) isn’t really a question that applies to me.

Losing part or all of one’s ability to smell is quite different from being born without the sense entirely (congenital anosmia). And there are varying levels and names that go along with one’s ability to smell. For example, if a person only experiences a partial loss of smell or a diminished loss of smell, the condition is called hyposmia. If the person is older and slowly losing the ability to smell (which is very common by the way), then the condition is referred to as presbyosmia. There are many other distinguishing factors that I won’t go into here, but the causes of each vary.

For hyposmia, the cause can be anything from a sinus infection to nasal polyps, a side effect of medication, head trauma, or in some cases tumors.

For congenitals, however, the causes are a bit sketchy. In rare cases the cause can be an inherited disorder called Kallmann syndrome (which I don’t have). Some doctors theorize that the olfactory nerves were never properly developed, or damaged somehow, or simply do not “communicate” properly with the brain. Most of the time though the cause cannot be determined, which is the case with me. Oh, and they have a name for that too…idiopathic anosmia.

So, in conclusion, I do not know why I have never been able to smell a thing. All I know is that it is NOT A TUMOR. I did the CAT scan thing many years ago.


1 · Kyle Fisk · Mar 9, 02:29 PM

i lost my sense of smell from an accident were i recieved head trauma. that was six years ago, and every time i tell someone i can’t smell they always ask me if i can taste. yes, i can taste, but a lot of people won’t believe me becouse they think that if you loose your smell you also loose your taste. now i know the two senses are connected, but they don’t rely on one another in order to function. i guess i just wanted to add that to your article.

2 · Heather · Mar 9, 02:43 PM

Thanks for sharing Kyle! Nice to meet you!

I recently fell while skateboarding and i had bad head trauma, and it has been three about 3 weeks since i have fallen, do you think it will ever come back? I know three weeks isnt long but im just curious

4 · sherry · Apr 4, 10:16 PM

My mother said when I was five years old I hit my head on something now I’m 45 years of age that’s when I lost my smell at the age of five nice to meet you both these other ways of getting around. Touch feel see hear, those are the four senses I use taste on an everyday basis, like four incidents I can see fire I can see mold I can see smoke I can touch things that are yucky, I can see garbage, and mold when it’s available,

5 · Heather · Apr 5, 08:49 PM

Kyle D…sorry about the accident. Unfortunately, though, whether or not you’ll be able to smell again is a question your doctor would have to answer. All I know is that some people do regain their sense of smell after an accident, and some don’t. Sorry I can’t be much help there.

6 · nathaniel · Jun 20, 08:12 PM

I got to be honest i didn’t know there were others out there that didn’t have a sense of smell. i have to ask does anyone else get tired of explaining “No i can’t tell if the damn milk spoiled” k um bye

7 · krystal · Jan 6, 09:39 PM

for as long as i can remember i havent had a sense of smell. and it really does bother me because i feel like there is a whole nother world out there that im missing lol. i hate constantly having to ask my husband to smell this or that. i want to be able to smell it myself. so therefore, i have made an appt with an ENT doctor to get it checked out. i feel like i shouldve made this appt a long time ago. i just hope there is something they can do about it

8 · sherry · Feb 15, 12:27 AM

hi I’m back. On April 4 I left a message forget the year. Now it’s the year 2010 I’m looking for a cure. I was kind of wondering if rebuilding stem cell would bring back smell.

9 · Heather · Feb 15, 11:55 AM

Welcome back Sherry! As far as I know, there is no cure for anosmia. If you find something out though let us know!

10 · Don Stokes · Mar 16, 07:30 PM


I’m (allegedly) a Kallman’s “sufferer”, although the symptoms are far from conclusive. There are (at least) two types of Kallman’s. Type 1 is pretty easy to spot. Type 2 varies enormously in how it’s expressed, and for me, apart profound anosmia, the symptoms are mere hints rather than definite markers.

I’ve done the MRI thing — apparently the channels for the olfactory nerves are present, but the nerves themselves are not, which is a bit strange.

BTW. Does anyone know what’s happened to I haven’t been able to get onto it for several months now (just get a blank page). Is it likely to come back? Ever?

— don

11 · Heather · Mar 17, 10:16 AM

Hey Don!

I’ve never had an MRI. They did a CAT scan on me when I was in junior high (that was a little while ago [cough cough]) but that was basically to rule out brain tumors…if I remember correctly.

I find your missing nerves fascinating! Anyone ever made any bad jokes…like “You haven’t got the nerve!”.

Sorry…couldn’t resist.

And about…not sure what happened. Anybody know?

12 · Sarah · Apr 24, 02:01 PM

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all the helpful information. I had an accident where I had brain surgery in 1997. I lost my sense of smell when the nerves were cut. Was wondering with all the new technology these days if they could reconnect them. Its really annoying not having a sense of smell and explaining to people or perfume sprayers that you can’t smell.

i was born with anosmia, but i never had to much trouble with it, i actually found out that i had it when i was young and our door was sprayed by a skunk, and i couldnt tell! i find that with any type of gas in the air, i can taste it in the back of my throat, even before others can smell it, which is useful, but that might be different for people who lose there smelling, not who are born without it. i dont really care much about not smelling except when the family drives near a kfc(u guys know the drill), but i love the irony of when i tell someone that their fart stinks. lol

Yo guys you got to help me out im freaking out, i moved to korea i live on mountin side and my nose would soemtimes be blocked for a whole day, lately it didt happen now it happened again and before i was leaving house i spayed some colone, as i was walking to my doorway i realised i dont smell anything. so i went back i sprayed my colone like 10 times n pawn ofmy hand, i smell it and nuthing, except the dingly feeling and somewhat taste of alcohol, now i went smelled everything around my house i dont smell ANYTHING. How seriosu is this. i heard once that if u loose ur smell it hard to get an apetite for a food, guys u got to help me what do i do? im only freaking 19 years old!!

15 · hassan · Aug 24, 03:12 AM

Hi every one not me only lost his smell sense!

I have been lost this sense ten years ago. I was in flu then i get some camphor and put it inside the nose then little by little i lost smell smell sense is there any treatment. please help

16 · hassan · Aug 24, 03:17 AM

I put Camphor oil inside my nose then my smell sense became weak and more weak then lost

17 · denise · Nov 29, 09:52 PM

i lost my sense of smell due to a brain injury and didnt even know for a week that I couldnt smell.At first I couldnt smell anything at all…nothing…now i can only describe it as a sensation I get when I smell soap,or a different one when I smell coffee.I can taste everything.everyday I am hopeful that I may get it back but I have lost alot of weight cause if you dont smell you cant crave. gotta stay positive

18 · VanessaFas · Dec 23, 09:13 PM

I lost my sense of smell over a year ago. Not all of it, but like 90%+ of it. They don’t know how, but it looks like it is not coming back.

My question is for people who have been living with this longer than I: How do you eat normally? I have lost a lot of weight because it is torture to eat “sand” all the time. I’d appreciate any advice.

19 · rich · Mar 15, 12:12 PM

Like you I can not smell for the most part. some times though when excited ( sports, girl ect.) I can smell, some things. Like grass lotions on a girl, and blood ect. My qeustion is, why is that? Not only that I do not seem to be having the same problem with taste as you all. As a matter of fact I have been told that I can taste things that others do not that are in the food.

20 · Rachel · Mar 30, 10:59 PM

I was born without a sense of smell and I ALWAYS get one of two things said back o me when they ask for an explaination: “Can you taste?” or “that’s awesome/weird”

21 · Mark · May 11, 11:48 PM

Four years ago I lost my sense of smell. Actually, I could still smell but everything smelled the same. It was a chemical smell like lye. I didn’t know why. After several months I saw an ENT doctor. He did tests and told me that the chance of me regaining my smell again was about 50/50 and he instructed me to go to a vitamin store and get a super B vitamin and Alpha Lipoic Acid. I did and within 4 days I started to be able to smell again. It took a few weeks but eventually I regained my sense of smell. I lost it again a few months later and realized what caused it: High blood pressure medication. That was what the 2 events had in common. I only tried this type of medication twice briefly and both times it resulted in losing my sense of smell. My doctor confirmed that this is a rare but real side effect. Luckily it came back both times with the supplements. I am so grateful.

22 · Shirley · May 13, 07:25 AM

Hi, I never realised how I totally lost my sense of smell more than 5-8 years ago. I am 39 now. I did notice that it possibly happened at a time when I was constantly overworked and that I had realised that I had chronic asthma all of a sudden. Asthma was controlled 5 years back. Nobody seems to understand when I have to explain that I can’t smell anything. I do recall 2 times since it happened that my smell did come back for 2 minutes before it disappeared. At that moment, I was in contact with rose and some other pure organic oil. Today, I am noticing that my right nostril is completely blocked and that a doctor had once told me many years back that this same nostril seemed to have a polyp. I am still currently prone to having a runny nose or a blocked nose (depending) all the time, but thankfully, I am still able to taste.

23 · Kristi · May 21, 02:41 AM

Hi all. Shirley, I have to wonder what medications they gave you for asthma. I have been an asthma sufferer since I was two. I am now 28, and just in the last couple of weeks have lost my sense of smell. And I don’t know what to attribute it to. I’m on several new medications, seriously stressed (husband just deployed) and recently moved to a very dry climate from an extremely humid climate. I’m going to make an appointment now and hope there is something they can do! I hate not being able to smell candles, food cooking, flowers, etc. But one thing that frightens me is that the house I’m in has a lot of gas appliances, and I wouldn’t be able to smell a gas leak. This is so strange and new for me, because I’ve always had a very sensitive nose and strong allergies. Since I’ve lost my sense of smell, I breathe through my nose with no issues and I don’t think I’ve sneezed once. I just can’t smell a thing. (. Any experiences or advice would be very much appreciated.

24 · Vickie · Jun 4, 07:17 PM

I’ve had 3 sinus surgeries in the past, the most recent, 2 yrs ago. I was told the surgeries are not a cure. I lost my sense of smell around Nov. last yr. I use a sinus rinse every morning & I’m just wondering if that could be the reason. I can’t find anything on google search. Any replies?

25 · darren · Jul 22, 11:41 AM

I lost most of taste and smell 3 days ago. Every thing smells and tastes bad, like burnt chemicals. I used “Rhinitis” nasal rinse. It burned my sinuses. I was a nightmare! Slowly I’m getting back taste and smell. The bottle said “saline rinse” but after I used it I read the contents…it had a bunch of chemical including phophoric acid 85%! WTF. I contacted the company, but no response. Any class actions out there?

I am not sure if the site is up to date but I am looking for information. I have lost my sense of smell for a few years now and was told by more than one doctor it was due to sinus inflammation. I could regain a sense of smell if I took a round of steroids but it would only last for a few weeks and I reserved steroids for special occasions due to their harshness. Today I was doing laundry stood up to put clothes in my stack-able dryer and cracked the top of my head near the back of my head. I can smell! I don’t know if it is temporary or the sign of a bigger problem due to the impact but as for now I can smell. Any one else have a similar situation?

27 · Rachel H · Aug 20, 01:28 PM

I have a scheduled appointment for an MRI (by my parent’s nervous prodding) to see if there is anything “dangerous”. As far as I know, I have never been able to smell anything.

I found out when I was around three when I was sitting with my mother in the yard “helping” her garden haha. She told me to smell the newly bloomed roses. I leaned over, sniffed, looked her in the face and said “what’s supposed to happen mama?” haha!

I always, without fail, get the same “can you taste?” question after I tell someone I was born without a sense of smell. I’ve found that I can taste/smell? things in the back of my throat sometimes…

I don’t know how to explain it, so now when people start asking alot of questions I can answer I will send them here to! =D

Thanks for this very helpful website!

28 · Rym · Nov 23,

12:35 PM

I can never really any of the common things like perfume or food…etc. However when I was 18 (I am now 35), I started to recognize the smell of smoking. I also can smell things like alcohol or perfume if I bring the bottle very close to my nose. I have no idea if it smells good or bad but sometimes very strong smells come to my thought and are uncomfortable. So what do you think the condition is? Is this anosmia? I am under the impression that my nose works a little but that the connection to the brain that interprets things is not great.

I’ve never had a sense of smell, however I believe I can taste food just fine, thank you. In fact, if food were to taste any more delicious due to smell, maybe it’s a good thing I have no sense of smell. I’d become the size of a blimp. How well can I taste? OK, that’s hard to say, but if my wife were to switch food brands, I notice right away. I certainly have my favorites of most everyting.

My younger sister also has no sense of smell. My other sister, two older brothers and my parents all can smell. In fact I never miss the opportunity to tell them that they smell. (Chuckle, chuckle)

Actually, it doesn’t bother me all that much. I accentuate the positives: When someone passes gas in close quarters I’m the only one who doesn’t gag or complain. Missing apparent positive odors is kind of cancelled out by not having to put up with many apparently irritating to gastly-gag-inducing odors, which “smelling people” seem to complain about more than positive ones.

On the flip side, I am more vigilant about things in my environment which can be dangerous if the odor is ignored or missed, like natural gas, caustic chemical odors, or pans left on the stove. I don’t notice smoke until it is so bad that it irritates my nasal passages and or eyes. But, HA… at that point… I can also begin to see it. I’ve learned to cope by also reading labels before using products. Hey, it’s just part of my life. No big thing!

A doctor who could not find any reason for my lack of olfacory sense put his hand on my shoulder and said in a kindly way, “Of all of the senses you might have lost, this is the one that’s the least restrictive of your life. You can at least be thankful for that.” He was right!

I guess I’m like a fly born in a vinegar jar! Since I have no basis of comparison, it’s the sweetest place I’ve ever been. I enjoy life and have fun with it! When my wife and sons complain about some nasty odor… I raise my hands toward the sky and say with tongue in cheek, “Thank you, Lord, thank you!”

30 · momof3 · Jan 26, 11:37 AM

I’m so glad I found this website. I haven’t been able to smell for as long as I can remember. The only thing I know from my childhood is I fell off the bathroom sink when I was 2 and bite through my tongue so not sure if I could smell before that or not. I used to say if I can smell it you know it’s really bad. I know realize that I can almost feel the thickness in the air I can’t smell it. I’ve never thought too much about it until recently now that I’m a mom. It’s a blessing and a curse. Not being able to smell dirty diapers but at the same time it’s a little embarrassing when a stranger tells me ‘I think she’s needs a diaper’ So I’ve made the appointment for the ENT but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

31 · LALA · Jan 29, 05:00 PM

HEY. I HAVE congenital anosmia too. i’ve never been able to smell. it doesn’t bother me, i’m just thankful it was my sense of smell and not my sense of taste… wouldn’t that be AWFUL to be able to smell brownies but not be able to taste them. Alsoo… i’m kind of confused. why is lacking a sense of smell considered a disease (to some)… when it’s just the same thing as someone who can’t see. or someone who can’t hear. I know this is more unusual… but i don’t see what’s so shocking about it to those who can smell.

32 · ryan · Feb 21, 08:36 AM

i am one of those guys that keeps himself as healthy as he can, and avoids the doctor as much as he can. but the inevitable trip to see the man in white is here. i have been able to smell since december. i dont know what could have happened, its crazy, i cant smell a THING ive gone to fill up the car a few times n got the faint scent of gasoline im assuming thats because its just a really powerful chemical. a few things ive noticed though have been that i have a thick and cumbersome amount of mucus in my nose, and my nasal passage ways have become more vulnerable to nasal swelling and congestion. anyone experience(ing) the same? i cant wait to hear what the doc says :) lol

33 · doug · Mar 9, 09:05 PM

im 25 and i have never been able to smell. im a twin. and im the first one that came out. the doctor said it was very common for the first born of twins not to be able to smell because the first one like myself was stuck in the birth cannal for a month or two and that crushed my nose. i feel the same about someone who said in a comment before. it does feel like a whole world that im missing out on. theres “ ALOT ” of stuff im glad i can’t smell lol. but there are stuff that i would love to know what it is like. i never had any issue with taste. i can taste the different between chicken and steak just fine. just glad if it is any of my senses. its my nose and not my hearing or vison

34 · Katy · Apr 7, 12:33 AM

Hi everyone

I lost my sense of smell around 5 to 6 years ago and never broke my head about it. Reading all these is freaking me out… I don’t remember why exactly I lost my ability to smell but I am sure it’s not because of head injury. Another interesting fact is that my dad’s sisters in the family cannot smell. Yes. Only the females in my family can’t smell. I recently got checked by doctor he told its coz my nerves are weak and asked me to use the spray for 3 months. I used it regularly but there was not even .0001% change so I stopped using the spray nor gone back to the doctor…

Yes I can taste food.

I think I should pay a visit to the doctor get a scan and things

35 · charles · Apr 29, 05:49 PM

hy every one,wel it feels good 2 know that you are not da only 1 who cant smell,av not been able to smell since i waz born.i will be so happy to regain my sense of smelling back again daz if it is gonna work out,wel am happy 2 meet u guyz here,now i know am not the only different person.

36 · Melissa · Jun 8, 01:09 PM

As far as I know, I was born without a sense of smell. I used to get sinus infections all the time and I went to the E.N.T doctor and he said that it would come back after my sinus infections clear up. That was about 6 years ago and I still have no sense of smell and I had none before the sinus infections. With what I plan to do in the future, I need a sense of smell. My sister also doesn’t have a sense of smell and my dad can only smell certain things. So glad there are other people that can relate!

37 · sher · Jun 25, 09:19 PM

I had every blessing of God upto grade 7th. After that I don’t know when I lost my sense of smell. I can taste very well. I don’t have any problem with taste but smell, its a bad experience for me. If I make some perfume and then at that time put my nose on that then I can feel that but other than that I cannot smell at all. My nose was struck with a support when I was about 13 and it did not bleed at all at that time but I think this might be related to my sense of smell. Lets hope for the best. I never become dissatisfied with the blessings of God. Buy miss one which I had before, smell. thanks

38 · Wayne · Jul 9, 03:59 PM

I too have lost my sense of smell from a car accident. I would say my smell will never come back, I forget what most things smell like. I try to remember, but it just doesnt happen. Here is the link/info to my accident news article from the Sault Star newspaper page.

Wayne Barry

Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Surviver of a week long coma!!

39 · Chris · Aug 3, 03:12 PM

Help, I’m 32, a full time firefighter. I lost my smell after getting enfluenza from a patient I had in my ambulance. Anyway, trying nasal spray, ent wants to do a head ct. I was told to try the alpha acid, but what dose?

40 · Jools · Aug 27, 07:29 PM

I lost my sense of smell 39 years ago, on my 21st birthday… a car accident left me with head injuries, and since then, nothing. As a caterer thbis was catastrophic at the time, although I must say I love food, I have always loved to prepare food, and believe I can taste it pretty well…… all that said, I miss so much I can no longer smell the flowers, my children, and other people…. life is good, I have been blessed, and of all the senses, this is the one I can live with…

41 · Noah · Sep 24, 08:10 PM

My whole life (I’m 14) I’ve always felt odd. Like how come everyone else could smell and I couldn’t? I always have to explain to people that “no I can’t smell…I don’t know why!” a lot of people don’t believe me and others tease me and I just really feel like a freak..I heard there’s no cure for this and I feel like there really should be. What if I’m asleep and there’s a gas leak? How am I supposed to know. I’ve spent my whole life not being like everyone else and it’s not fair.

42 · Chris · Sep 29, 12:55 AM

Here is how you spot a congenital: the story isn’t about how you lost your ability to smell, but how you discovered you couldn’t smell. I was a very good student, around middle school age, and we had to identify odors on cotton balls in the old black film canisters. Couldn’t do it. Even then, I didn’t think it was because I couldn’t smell. I thought I must be stupid. I’m only now realizing after having a daughter with a very keen sense of smell, how much I’m missing. Just tonight she told me paprika has a smell. I’m mean, who knew? I suppose for someone who had a sense of smell and lost it, it would be a tragedy. For me it was just a quirk.

43 · Edward · Nov 5, 03:30 PM

I can only smell certain things there are very few things I am aware that I can smell like fish if its being cooked or meat that’s being grilled I can’t smell stuff like farts (no matter how strong) flowers etc my friends who part take in marijuana (I don’t) tell me they have really strong scents but when I smell I can’t smell it (probably why i don’t do it) all i know is that I can smell some stuff but not a lot of stuff I think I only know of 5 things I can smell and that’s it idk what this would be called I just don’t get why my Brian decides to want to smell stuff over others!

44 · Randa · Nov 24, 09:36 PM

I lost the ability to smell about a month and a half ago. I was kicked in the face by a horse. They thought I was going to die, and if I lived they thought I was going to be brain dead. Thankfully I made it only with a scar on my face, metal plates n my head, and lost the ability of smelling. They said the nerves got destroyed so its unlikely to be able to smell again. It has effected my taste, things weren’t as strong. The past week or so I’ve noticed I’m not able to taste hardly anything. Do u have any idea why it’s getting worse? It just doesn’t seem right.

45 · Luis · Dec 17, 09:40 AM

Hello, I need help iam 15 years old ,yesterday and today I had the flue and I freaked out yesterday because I couldn’t smell nuthing I am really sad right now I don’t know what to do if any of you guys know something please let me know by commenting or send me a text @ 6612353928

46 · Angela · Jan 2, 08:55 PM

Hi there,

I have lost my sense of smell in the fall and winter, because I have a cold. I was trying to get it back, but my nose can hardly smell anything. I tried smelling perfume, lotion, steak, smoke, cookies, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. but I can’t smell any of those things. Please help me!

Anyways, what right kind of medicine and beverage should I use for my cold and my swollen nose? My nose is a little swollen, so I am afraid that I won’t be smelling stuff (like smoke from a campfire or cigarettes) ever again! What should I do? Should I have some sips of green tea with milk and honey in it? And should I blow my nose more often and take medicine like antibiotics? Should I see an ENT doctor? Please let me know what I should do to get my sense of smell back, and getting the swelling out of there. Thank You!

Hi all. I don’t ever remember smelling in my lifetime. As a child we’d drive by farms and my family would cringe in terror, while I sat there like something must be wrong with me or I’m too stupid to know how to smell. Seems a lot of people don’t understand or believe me when I tell them I can’t smell at all. Parents never noticed until I told them when I was an adult (kinda tells a lot about my parents, huh?). ty everyone.

3/19/2013: Lost my sense of smell about 6 years ago. No family history, however have allergies and since moving to a new area in 1994 have had frequent sinus infections. Had CT scan and MRI. and tried oral zinc tabs. ENT theorizes that sense of smell diminished over time with sicknesses to the point it’s now gone. The time I was sick and noticed my sense was gone, I was using nasal Zicam and wonder if that had anything to do with it. I do not taste much, but can identify sweet, sour, and salty. I cannot be certain that I actually taste any particular flavor, like peanut butter, or just have a memory of the taste. A couple times have I had a sensation of smelling something and each time other people near me couldn’t smell anything. Once when leaving work, I swore there was a campfire nearby. Ha! Really wish I could regain my sense of smell because I really miss smelling so many things. I’d even like to smell my son’s rancid farts just to be able to smell again. I sometimes don’t want to eat because it doesn’t taste, but I’m a stress-eater so there is no danger of me wasting away. Would love to participate in a clinical trial just to try to get my sense (or a fraction thereof) back. Anyone know of any trials?

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