The impact of patients losing their sense of smell

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Olfactory disorders are not as rare as you might think: estimates are that 1-5% of the population experience it at some point in their lives1. It can happen as a result of chronic sinusitis, damage caused by cold viruses, or even a head injury. It is sometimes also a precursor of nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. But compared with hearing and sight loss, it receives little research or medical attention. Losing any sensory input should not be underestimated, this is an argument best reasoned by those who have suffered this loss. A recent qualitative study by Erskine and Philpott2 provided an opportunity to better understand the issues people with smell disorders face. Through the analysis of written, personal accounts of anosmia (loss of sense of smell) sent in to the Norfolk Smell & Taste Clinic by 71 sufferers, the texts revealed several themes, including feelings of isolation, relationship difficulties, impact on physical health and also the difficulty and cost of seeking help. Many people also commented on the negative attitude from doctors about smell loss, and how they found it difficult to get advice and treatment for their condition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0090
JournalBritish Journal of Hospital Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2020

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