Problems with Smell

Frequently Asked Questions

5. What are the symptoms of smell loss?

People who experience smell disorders either have a decrease in their ability to smell or changes in the way they perceive odors. Total smell loss is relatively rare, but a decrease in the sense of smell occurs more often, especially in older adults.

There are several types of smell disorders depending on how the sense of smell is affected.

  • Some people have hyposmia, which occurs when their ability to detect certain odors is reduced.
  • Other people can't detect odor at all, which is called anosmia.
  • Sometimes a loss of smell can be accompanied by a change in the perception of odors. This type of smell disorder is called dysosmia. Familiar odors may become distorted, or an odor that usually smells pleasant instead smells foul.
  • Still others may perceive a smell that isn't present at all, which is called phantosmia.
  • Smell loss due to aging is called presbyosmia.