Clinical presentation of qualitative olfactory dysfunction

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2004 Aug;261(7):411-5. doi: 10.1007/s00405-003-0703-y. Epub 2003 Nov 11.


Many patients with olfactory dysfunction not only experience quantitative reduction of olfactory function, but also suffer from distorted olfactory sensations. This qualitative dysfunction is referred to as parosmia (also called "troposmia") or phantosmia, with the major difference that distorted olfactory sensations are experienced in the presence or absence of an odor, respectively. Our clinical observations corroborate the literature in terms of a general underestimation of the incidence of olfactory distortions. Based on selected cases we try to show that olfactory distortions exhibit a large variance in their clinical appearance. Further, emphasis is placed on the fact that only a detailed and directed history of the patient can provide cues to the correct diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Odorants
  • Olfaction Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Olfaction Disorders / etiology
  • Olfaction Disorders / therapy