Olfactory disorders and quality of life--an updated review

Chem Senses. 2014 Mar;39(3):185-94. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjt072. Epub 2014 Jan 15.


Olfactory disorders are common and affect about one-fifth of the general population. The main causes of olfactory loss are post viral upper respiratory infection, nasal/sinus disease, and head trauma and are therefore very frequent among patients in ear, nose, and throat clinics. We have systematically reviewed the impact of quantitative, qualitative, and congenital olfactory disorders on daily life domains as well as on general quality of life and depression. From the extensive body of literature, it can be concluded that loss of the sense of smell leads to disturbances in important areas, mainly in food enjoyment, detecting harmful food and smoke, and to some extent in social situations and working life. Most patients seem to deal well and manage those restrictions. However, a smaller proportion has considerable problems and expresses a noticeable reduction in general quality of life and enhanced depression. The impact of coping strategies is discussed.

Keywords: Depression; olfaction; prevalence; quality of life; smell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Age Factors
  • Depression / etiology
  • Humans
  • Olfaction Disorders / complications
  • Olfaction Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Olfaction Disorders / epidemiology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Smell / physiology