Distorted odorant perception: analysis of a series of 56 patients with parosmia

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2005 Feb;131(2):107-12. doi: 10.1001/archotol.131.2.107.


Objective: To characterize the self-reported olfactory and gustatory symptoms, olfactory function, and causes in parosmia.

Design: Assessment of olfactory symptoms and function in patients with a chief complaint of parosmia.

Setting: A university hospital clinic and research facility.

Patients: Fifty-six consecutive patients presented to the ORL Clinic, European Hospital Georges Pompidou, with a chief complaint of parosmia between October 2001 and November 2003.

Main outcome measures: Subjective olfactory symptom analysis and olfactory function test results.

Results: The mean duration of parosmia was 63.0 months. Forty patients (71.4%) reported associated hyposmia and 16 (28.6%) reported anosmia. Olfactory testing revealed moderate to severe olfactory loss in all patients. Quantitative and qualitative alterations occurred simultaneously in 32 patients (57.1%); parosmia onset occurred within 3 months after quantitative dysosmia in 19 patients (33.9%) and after 3 months in 5 patients (8.9%). The sensation of parosmia was always unpleasant. The main odorant triggers eliciting parosmia are described. The mean severity of flavor dysfunction of the population, evaluated using a 10-cm visual analog scale, was 6.4. Thirty-one patients (55.4%) viewed their olfactory alteration as severely affecting their quality of life. The main clinical association of parosmia was upper respiratory tract infection, found in 42.8% of the patients. Others clinical associations are described.

Conclusion: The series of patients with parosmia presented herein, the largest in the literature, permits a clinical description of this rare olfactory abnormality.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olfaction Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Olfaction Disorders* / etiology
  • Olfaction Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Quality of Life