The privilege of being nosey

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What good is a fragrant rose if you can’t smell its scent?. Can you still enjoy your freshly brewed coffee if you can’t smell the aroma?. Imagine not being able to smell the different odors we encounter everyday, like the fresh shower scent of your spouse, the pure scent of a baby’s skin, the crisp, clean smell of laundry. How many people have taken for granted their sense of smell simply because of its daily normal occurrence?.The sense of smell plays an important role in the enhancement and improvement of our life. From the beginning of time, man’s ability to smell has been fundamental and crucial for survival. It enabled prehistoric people to identify healthy food sources and detect potentially poisonous fruits and plants through their odor. Other functions of smell involve the relaying of emotions such as fear and anxiety. Humans release pheromones, a naturally produced chemical that has a distinct smell, during times of ovulation and sexual drive. To a great extent, taste is determined by smell and, for that reason, loss of smell often leads to a loss of taste.

Disorder in the olfactory system can therefore cause great disturbance in the quality of our life. Loss of appetite can bring anxiety that may lead to depression. Smell dysfunction can lead a person to subsequent danger. The inability to detect smoke can be dangerous and food poisoning is more prevalent in patients who cannot detect rotten food.

There are many definitions of the various categories of smell dysfunction:· Anosmia – a complete loss of smell· Hyposmia – partial loss of smell· Hyperosmia – enhanced smell sensitivity· Dysosmia – distortion in odor perception· Parosmia – distortion of perception of external stimulus· Phantosmia – smell perception with no external stimulus· Troposmia – distortion of perception of odorant stimulus. Depending on the cause of the olfactory disorder and patient history, some smell dysfunction may be permanent while others are only temporary. Nevertheless, the loss of the sense of smell can have profound psychological and somatic consequences. It can also signal the existence of various diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Our ability to smell is also dependent on age. The sense of smell peaks during late 20s to early 30s, and gradually diminishes after that. In some cases, as much as 60 percent of the sense of smell is diminished as a person reaches the so-called golden years. There are people who are more vulnerable to infections or viruses that cause them to lose their sense of smell altogether. The viruses seem to attack the nerve cells, which are located in the upper part of the nasal cavity, causing the loss of smell.

While some men may be afflicted with the condition, middle-aged women are more susceptible due to a more fragile immune system caused by menopause. Women in their 40s or 50s usually develop anosmia, a condition where they lack of olfaction or the ability to smell, after suffering from a serious sinus infection. Sinus infections are usually brought on by the common cold. Although the condition can be treated with medication, physicians say that it does have some side effects. Many people take vitamins loaded with antioxidants to regain their smell, but it takes time for them to fully recover. In most cases, the smell never comes back 100 percent.

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