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Anosmia, an unpleasant sense of smell disorder – exploring your mind

Anosmia, an unpleasant sense of smell disorder – exploring your mind

We live amid great or unpleasant scents and scents that permeate everything. People with anosmia do not notice smells, which greatly affects their quality of life.

Anosmia, a disorder of bad smell

Last updated: March 03, 2023

Imagine that you live in a world without odors. People with anosmia face a complicated situationBecause the sense of smell, like all other senses, is essential for survival. It warns us of certain threats in the environment and also creates memories in our memory.

Aromatherapy acts directly on the limbic system, which is responsible for emotions and impulses. It’s a very complex chemical process that starts in the nose, which has between 10 and 30 million neurons that contain receptors for about 350 odors. We can identify different odor molecules very quickly and give them a name: “It smells like roses” or “Beware: smoke!”

“All scents, pleasant or not, evoke extraordinary memories.”

Primo Levi

Smells are closely linked to our memory.

sense of smell

The sense of smell is not only given to us Unforgettable experiences and memories, but also warns us of potentially life-threatening situations. For example, we can use it to smell a threatening fire or to recognize foods that are no longer good.

Once our nose inhales odor molecules, the information reaches the olfactory mucous membranes in the nasal septum, which are equipped with olfactory sensory cells. Olfactory cells attach to olfactory receptors and, after converting chemical signals into electrical signals, are transmitted to the olfactory bulb above the nasal root. This is where information is collected and processed. The signals finally reach the olfactory tract in the brain, where the olfactory cortex is located. The combination of about 350 types of receptors enables us to perceive about 10,000 different odors.

“Take the scent of the forest and the taste of life with you.”

Antonio Gala

Anatomy of the olfactory cortex

The olfactory cortex is the main center that conducts the orchestra of smells. This brain region enables us to identify and recognize odors and to distinguish between different odors that we perceive at the same time. We briefly show the tools for this orchestra:

  • Pear area: This region is tasked with supporting the anterior structure so that we can distinguish and name odor molecules.
  • Olfactory tubercle: Participates in the processing of olfactory stimuli.
  • Medical cortical core areas Amygdala: Smells are associated with different feelings, for example, the smell of smoke can trigger fear.
  • inner region: This structure, which contains olfactory memory, helps us answer questions such as: Why do we associate a particular smell with a person? Why do we release certain smells? Why can smells activate traumatic experiences in people with PTSD?
  • anterior olfactory nucleus: This tool makes us aware of what we smell in the present moment. It also gives us the ability to distinguish between different kinds of scents, such as “sweet” or “floral.”
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One of the structures to which these regions project their information is the orbitofrontal cortex. If this area suffers from a lesion, the person can no longer distinguish the smell they see.

“Patients with lesions in the orbitofrontal cortex can detect the presence or absence of an odor but are unable to distinguish between different odors.”

Oris L. Di Calvo

An approach to the etiology of anosmia

Anosmia describes the complete absence or loss of the ability to smell. This means that the enjoyment of food is lost, because without the perception of smell, the taste of food is pale and tasteless. This condition is called aging in technical terminology. There are different stages of loss of smell (Chaves-Morillo, 2017):

  • Normosia or the natural ability to smell.
  • Decreased sense of smell or decreased ability to smell.
  • Excessive sense of smell or increased ability to smell.
  • Indigestion or a change in the normal perception of smell. You can for example occur in the context of schizophrenia.

Symptoms of anemia include a psychiatric history, such as short-term memory deficits (Guerra, 2016). There is also a neurological history, most often head trauma. It can also be associated with the effect of some viral pathogens, almost SARS-COV-2 .

There are different types of anosmia.

Causes of loss of smell

The causes of this smell disorder are injuries or inflammation of the brain structures. They are very versatile and complex. The following triggers are known (Guerra, 2016):

  • head trauma
  • natural aging processes
  • dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
  • Nasal congestion due to a viral infection
  • brain tumor
  • Take medications, such as the antipsychotic reserpine
  • surgery
  • Medical treatments for cancer
  • smoking
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Experts distinguish between traumatic anosmia (eg caused by head trauma), viral (eg caused by COVID-19) and idiopathic (unknown cause) anosmia. Various measures can be taken Rehabilitation constribte, It is critical to patients’ safety and psychological well-being.

“Loss of smell is associated with the development of memory impairment, and is a major factor in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.”

Virginia Chaves Murillo

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