Why a Change to Your Sense of Smell May Indicate a Brain Problem

Health & Medical Blog

The sense of smell is one of a person's strongest senses, so it can be alarming to have something go wrong with it. If you think you're not smelling things as well as you once did and examinations of your nose haven't revealed anything, there's a chance that the problem could involve your brain. Read on to learn how this could be your problem and what you should do to seek help.

How You Smell Things

Every sense you have is a complex system. For smelling things, your body sends signals from your nose into an olfactory nerve that reaches from your nasal passageway to your brain. This nerve is responsible for transmitting an electrical signal to your brain that your brain then translates into a scent.

How Sensory Problems Occur

When a nerve is impacted, it can fail to send a signal properly to the brain. In some cases, this means that the sense of smell is simply limited, or it may completely stop functioning. In this case, you wouldn't be able to smell anything even when you're inhaling. In other cases, a problem with the nerve can send an incorrect signal that the brain can't interpret correctly. In cases like these, a pleasant scent can smell disgusting, or it may simply not smell like you think it should.

In any case, damage to the nerve anywhere can cause these problems. For example, an injury to the front of your head, the frontal lobe, or anywhere else where the nerve travels through could affect your sense of smell.

What to Do

If you've already sought assistance from a doctor regarding your nasal passageways and haven't had solid results, it might be time to consult a brain doctor. Brain doctors specialize in the brain, as well as the nerves that run to and from it.

Brain doctors will work with you to determine where the problem is coming from. They may use an MRI to examine your brain and see if there's any kind of visible injury or inflammation. If any is found, your doctor will begin an immediate treatment plan to heal the injury and reduce inflammation. If the damage to the nerve isn't permanent, you should begin to smell things more accurately soon after treatment.

Traumatic injuries and illnesses affecting the brain can both potentially affect your ability to use your sense of smell. If you haven't found relief after visiting your general doctor, consider asking for a referral to a brain specialist to find out if you have a nerve or brain issue.


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