Anosmia and hyposmia, the inability or decreased ability to smell, is estimated to afflict 3-20% of the population. Risk of olfactory dysfunction increases with old age and may also result from chronic sinonasal diseases, severe head trauma, and upper respiratory infections, or neurodegenerative diseases. These disorders impair the ability to sense warning odors in foods and the environment, as well as hinder the quality of life related to social interactions, eating, and feelings of well-being. This article reports and extends on a clinical update commencing at the 2016 Association for Chemoreception Sciences annual meeting. Included were reports from: a patient perspective on losing the sense of smell with information on Fifth Sense, a nonprofit advocacy organization for patients with olfactory disorders; an otolaryngologist's review of clinical evaluation, diagnosis, and management/treatment of anosmia; and researchers' review of recent advances in potential anosmia treatments from fundamental science, in animal, cellular, or genetic models. As limited evidence-based treatments exist for anosmia, dissemination of information on anosmia-related health risks is needed. This could include feasible and useful screening measures for olfactory dysfunction, appropriate clinical evaluation, and patient counseling to avoid harm as well as manage health and quality of life with anosmia.
Keywords: genetics; neural reorganization; olfactory dysfunction; quality of life; stem cell regeneration; treatment.
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