Problems with Smell

Frequently Asked Questions

16. Can smell disorders be treated?

Depending on the cause of your smell disorder, your doctor may be able to treat your problem or suggest ways to cope with it. If a certain medication is the cause of the disorder, ask your doctor if you could substitute other medications or reduce the dose. Your doctor will work with you to get the medicine you need while trying to reduce unwanted side effects.

Some patients with respiratory infections or allergies regain their sense of smell when the illness or condition is over. Often, correcting a general medical problem also can restore the sense of smell.

For patients with nasal obstructions, such as polyps, or other inflammatory conditions of the nose or sinuses, medical treatments or surgery can restore the sense of smell. Occasionally, the sense of smell returns to normal on its own, without any treatment.

Your doctor may suggest oral steroid medications such as prednisone, which is usually used for a short period of time, or topical steroid sprays, which can be used for longer periods of time. Antibiotics are also used to treat nasal infections. The effectiveness of both steroids and antibiotics depends greatly on the severity and duration of the nasal swelling or infection. Often relief is temporary.