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How To Regain The Loss Of Smell?

Smell brings many positive emotions into our lives. We all love the scent of flowers, the sea, and freshly baked bread. That’s why aromatherapy can be used to treat certain conditions such as improving sleep or relieving anxiety.

Smells help us avoid danger, for example, the smell of smoke can warn us of an impending fire, and the smell of spoiled food can help us avoid food poisoning.

Problems with the sense of smell can have a negative impact on the quality of life. The absence of the sense of smell worsens appetite and can lead to weight loss and even depression.

Causes of loss of smell

Anosmia is the term used to describe the loss of the ability to recognize one or more odors. Some people are born without a sense of smell. Others lose their sense of smell after head injuries. The loss of smell can be an initial sign of very serious diseases such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s syndrome, or Parkinson’s disease.

There are other reasons for the loss of smell: nasal polyps, nasal congestion, deviation of the nasal septum, sinus infection (sinusitis), respiratory infection, hay fever, or other types of allergies. A deficiency of certain micronutrients and vitamins can also lead to a loss of smell, as well as problems with the endocrine system. All of this needs to be checked to understand the cause of the problem.

Amazingly, you may not even notice that you have lost your sense of smell. You may still be able to smell some strong odors, such as the smell of chemical cleaning agents, when you lose your sense of smell. The reason for this is that we recognize some odors at the level of the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for recognizing the smell of ammonia and alcohol. The olfactory nerve may be damaged in the process.

Loss of smell after a viral infection

This problem is now known to many people because the loss of smell is one of the common symptoms of a coronavirus infection. Presumably, as of November 2021, about 1.6 million Americans still experienced a loss of smell six months after recovering from the infection.

In a recent study, it is said that in 4 out of 5 people experiencing this symptom, the ability to recognize odors is restored within six months. But more and more people complain that their sense of smell does not return for a long time after recovery. The mechanism is not yet understood, and some specialists believe that the prolonged loss of smell leads to the death of the responsible neurons.

A genetic predisposition to this problem has recently been found. Research has shown mutations in two olfactory genes, UGT2A1 and UGT2A2, which play a role in the metabolism of odorants. This helps to understand why not everyone experiences a loss of smell after recovering from an infection, but it does not help restore the sense of smell.

What to do if your sense of smell doesn’t return to you

If you have already recovered from an illness but still experience problems with your sense of smell, you should consult your family doctor and undergo an examination. As mentioned earlier, there can be many reasons, and some of them can have a serious impact on your health if you delay seeking help.

However, it may happen that the doctor finds no anomalies during the examination and advises you to wait until your sense of smell recovers on its own. In this case, you can try to expedite the recovery of your sense of smell on your own.

Research on smell recovery

In 2009, a study was published that can serve as a guide for self-recovery of your sense of smell. Professor Thomas Hummel from Dresden University found that you can gradually regain your sense of smell by inhaling four different aromas: floral, fruity, spicy, and resinous.

The study was conducted on a group of people with anosmia. All participants had lost their sense of smell for various reasons: due to head injuries, severe upper respiratory tract infections, or other causes. They all inhaled four aromas daily:

  • Floral: rose;
  • Fruity: lemon;
  • Spicy: cloves;
  • Resinous: eucalyptus.

Sessions were held twice a day, in the morning and evening, for 12 weeks. A control group did not participate in the training. After 12 weeks, the progress of the training group and the control group was compared. The study showed a positive effect of these sessions. Progress was even more significant if the sessions lasted for a longer period, around 6-7 months.

Such training cannot replace treatment if it is necessary, but it can help accelerate the recovery of your sense of smell. If you are undergoing treatment under the supervision of a specialist, be sure to consult with them before starting these exercises.

Is olfactory training suitable for you?

The effect of olfactory training has been studied in other clinical trials. They show that olfactory training is most effective for people with post-viral loss of smell. The earlier you start training after losing your sense of smell, the faster you can expect positive results.

Olfactory training is most suitable for those people whose sense of smell has already partially recovered in some form, and they can already perceive some olfactory irritants.

Olfactory Training

If you can’t smell anything at all, you probably won’t notice any odor initially. Nevertheless, it is important to focus even on a faint odor that you can perceive. Inhaling samples with four aromas twice a day will only take a few minutes a day (10 seconds for each aroma).

For training, it’s better to use organic, natural essential oils with strong odors. Buy new oils if the ones you have have lost their initial scent.

You can use special kits for such training. Such a kit will allow you to obtain the desired strength of aroma, which will not be too weak or too strong. A very weak aroma will not provide the desired effect, while a very strong one can cause irritation to the mucous membrane.

Take a short break between different aromas so that your sense of smell can distinguish the differences between them.

Continue the training even if you don’t feel anything. Stimulating your sense of smell has a therapeutic effect and speeds up the process of regaining your sense of smell.

Tips for olfactory training

It is important to inhale different odors at least twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening.

Relax and take a natural breath. Do not inhale too forcefully or for too long.

Try smelling other things during the day besides the four aromas, such as herbs, flowers in the garden, or perfumes. Anything that is safe for your sense of smell can help stimulate the recovery of your sense of smell.

For some people, the initial effects may be noticeable after a few weeks, but in other cases, it may take months.


Immediately stop the training if you experience worsening of your condition after such sessions and consult with your doctor.

Be cautious if you have any diagnosed health problems, especially respiratory issues! Always consult with a doctor before starting such training.

Despite the availability of aromatic oils, always seek additional advice before using them for children and pregnant women.