Do you know what anosmia is? How about hyposmia? Anosmia and hyposmia are $10 words that describe an inability to smell. Anosmia means that all sense of smell is lost. Hyposmia refers to a partial loss of smell. So why are anosmia and hyposmia important?
Here are three reasons why having an impaired sense of smell is important. One, something is wrong. An impaired sense of smell is an indicator. Maybe there's something serious causing it and this is the first indication of it. Second, impaired smell is potentially dangerous. Being able to detect odors can save your life when the odor is from infected food, or from a fire, or from a chemical. And third, having an impaired sense of smell often has a significant impact on quality of life. A life without smell is just not as rich of an experience. So how common is it? And better yet, what can be done about it?
A decreased ability to smell is surprisingly common in the white hair crowd. It happens in more than half of people over 65. And happens up to 80% of the time in those over 80. According to one recent review article on the problem, having impaired smell "is associated with a decrease in cognitive abilities and memory decline." That's bad enough, but then they go on to say, "A reduction in the sense of smell is considered to potentially represent an early and important warning of neuro-degenerative disorders, particularly of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. And in mild cognitive impairment olfactory [sense of smell] impairment may herald the progression to dementia." That stinks!
Recently, a group of Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialists reported on 38 patients who came to them complaining of an impaired sense of smell. The average length of time they had the problem was 2½ years. Of these, 68.4% had hyposmia and 31.5% had anosmia. The doctors were unable to determine what the cause was in more than 30% of the patients. In 28.9% the cause was nasal congestion. And in 10.5%, the cause was nasal polyps. They reported that the responses to treatment with topical steroids and alpha-lipoic acid were hit and miss. This pretty much corresponds with what has generally been reported. Sometimes the treatment works and sometimes it doesn't. The same goes for polyp removal surgery. But are those not the only causes of an impaired sense of smell?
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Another cause is brain injury. It can damage the area of the brain where smell is analyzed. Another cause is the persistent use of medicated nasal sprays for stuffiness. These sprays cause a decrease in blood flow to the nasal tissue and can damage the odor receptors in the nose. Most of the time people use these sprays, it's for the symptoms of allergies or chronic sinus irritation. So it is ironic that another cause of anosmia is allergies and sinus infections. And then there are drugs.
More than 250 different medications can cause a decrease in smell. I won't list them all here, but you can search the Internet or ask your pharmacist if this is a side effect of any of your medication. If you are on one or more of these drugs, they might be the problem. But what if after reading this article you still have no idea of what may be causing your anosmia or hyposmia? There's still something that might work for you.
Two years ago Dr. John Hughes reported on several cases of anosmia with no known cause at the annual meeting of The American Academy of Ozonotherapy. Just as you would expect, not all of the patients responded to the therapy. But some did. Here's what he did.
He used a series of glass bubblers, through which he pumped ozone at a concentration of 15 gamma. A bubbler is a device that infuses ozone into the bottom of a container and allows it to bubble up to the top, from which it is then collected and used. The first bubbler contained distilled water. After the ozone diffused through that bubbler, it went into a second bubbler. The second bubbler contained a mixture of olive oil and a few drops of peppermint and eucalyptus oil. The output of the second bubbler was then connected to a nasal cannula. A cannula is one of those tubes that goes under the nose that doctors commonly give oxygen through. The patient then sits and inhales through the cannula for 20 minutes. This treatment is repeated on a regular basis as needed. So let me make a few comments about Dr. Hughes' report.
First of all, if you don't already know it, ozone is an irritant to the lungs. If you inhale it, be prepared to cough for the next few hours. The reason why this therapy is safe is because the ozone bubbles through the olive oil. When it does this, it reacts with the olive oil to produce molecules called terpines. So the therapy is not really a form of ozone therapy. It is a form of terpine therapy. You are breathing terpines not ozone.
Next, this is a kind of therapy that you can do at home if you have an ozone generator. The best generator for this is from Longevity Resources by calling 1-877-543-3398 (or 001-250-654-0092 outside the U.S. and Canada). You have to call this number (not the number on their website) to get the discount I've arranged for you. Make sure you tell them you're a Second Opinion subscriber. Your cost for the entire kit is $2,350.00 (+ $150.00 S&H). That's a substantial discount off the retail price. I've mentioned this therapy a lot lately because it works. Longevity Resources also can provide the various bubblers and the cannulas that Dr. Hughes used. And if you don't have a generator and don't want to buy one you can always contact a doctor trained in the use of ozone. You can find that doctor at the website for The American Academy of Ozonotherapy, www.aaot.us.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Gregorio LL, Caparroz F, et al. Olfaction disorders: retrospective study. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. 2014 Jan-Feb;80(1):11-7.
Attems J, Walker L, Jellinger KA. Olfaction and Aging: A Mini-Review. Gerontology. 2015;61(6):485-90.
Douglass R. Drug-related taste disturbance. A contributing factor in geriatric syndromes. Can Fam Physician. 2010 Nov; 56(11): 1142–1147.
Hughs J. Ozone therapy for the treatment of anosmia. Reported at the annual congress of The American Academy of Ozonotherapy, February 2013.