Some people are more sensitive to smell

Smell Disorders - Signs and Effects

Smell disorders can be very different. If the sense of smell has completely disappeared in a complete anosmia, the patient can no longer perceive any fragrances. In the event of a partial loss of olfactory ability, a very specific odorant no longer triggers any stimuli on the sensory cells of the olfactory mucosa and can consequently no longer be perceived. Many patients with olfactory disorders still have the ability to perceive fragrances to a very limited extent - the so-called functional anosmia.

In the case of hyposmia, which often occurs in old age, the ability to smell is more or less greatly reduced. The loss of smell perception varies greatly from patient to patient. In addition, the ability to smell can fluctuate - that is, once better, almost like it used to be, and then worse again.

Some of those affected are also overly sensitive to smell. In the comparatively rare occurrence of hyperosmia, the olfactory cells of the person affected react excessively strongly to olfactory stimuli. Every scent, pleasant or disgusting, is perceived much more intensely. This phenomenon occurs, for example, in the context of migraine attacks. This hypersensitivity can also be limited to certain fragrances (olfactory intolerance).

Patients with qualitative olfactory disorders perceive smells differently than healthy people. Smell illusions can occur in the course of psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenic psychoses. However, these olfactory disorders are very rare. This also applies to the phenomenon that the patient perceives fragrances that have never reached his olfactory mucous membrane. In this so-called phantosmia, the sensory cells of the olfactory mucous membrane trigger an excitation without an odor stimulus being present.

Loss of quality of life

Smell disorders, like taste disorders, are anything but minor, but a major nuisance. Due to their limited olfactory perception, those affected have decisive losses in their daily sensory world and thus also in their quality of life. So many smells and smells are withheld from them: For example the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the still warm apple cake from the bakery next door, the beautiful bouquet of roses on the table, but also the actually familiar smell of the partner or the child. Apart from the sense of smell, the ability to taste is also significantly reduced: it is well known that we can only fully perceive and enjoy the aroma of a food and drink with the help of our sense of smell.

If smelling and tasting are only possible to a limited extent or no longer possible at all, that means far more than fewer enjoyable experiences. Unfortunately, smell disorders even more than taste disorders are also a major, omnipresent risk for patients. Because dangerous smells such as from poisonous gases or other harmful substances, from fires as well as from spoiled food are not or no longer sufficiently perceived by them.