Olfactory Training

Most people don’t think about their sense of smell until they are presented with a flower or a new bottle of perfume. While our sense of smell may not seem very important, it’s what attracts us to others, allows us to wake up during a fire, and prevents us from eating spoiled food. Unfortunately, our sense of smell is often underappreciated until we lose it.

How Sense of Smell is Lost

There are a wide variety of reasons we may lose our sense of smell. However, most individuals lose their smelling abilities because of nasal and sinus diseases, post-viral infection, tumors, or trauma. Anosmia is known as a complete loss of smell while hyposmia is a weakened sense of small and parosmia is distorted sense of smell.

How Olfactory Training Works

While medications and surgery may be used to treat the loss of the sense of smell, olfactory training is currently being evaluated. Professor Thomas Hummel introduced olfactory training in 2009 and discovered that patients who participated in it enjoyed a greater improvement in their sense of smell than those who did not.

It is a very simple treatment that patients can perform in the comfort of their own home. Olfactory training involves smelling several essential oils twice a day, every day, over a long period of time. For optimal results, patients are encouraged to stick with the program. If they cannot smell at first, they should keep trying as it may take weeks or even longer for them to detect anything.

This treatment promotes smell awareness and works like physical therapy, which restores damaged muscles over time. Studies have shown that the rose, clove, lemon, and eucalyptus oils used in olfactory training stimulates different types of receptor cells in the nose. While olfactory training is not effective for every patient, it has been proven to help 30 to 50 percent of patients.

Olfactory Training Is Worth Trying

By trying olfactory training, patients who have lost their sense of smell may be able to increase their quality of life without harmful side effects. Although it does not guarantee results, it may be worth a shot for many patients.


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