Anosmia or Loss of Smell from Brain Injury

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I'm almost a year into recovery from a brain tumor removal that was sitting on my olfactory nerve. In the beginning I had phantom smells; psychological I think. Since then, I've had absolutely no smell or taste whatsoever. I'm still hopeful.

Hello! I’ve noticed several folks on this site who have phantosmia along with their anosmia. After my head injury 9 years ago, I became anosmic. Several months into my recovery, I developed phantosmia (phantom smell/taste- most often noxious). Mine was 24/7 and greatly affected the quality of my life. Tried everything, but nothing could take the smell/taste of burned rubber, metal, cigarettes, rotting flesh, and soap away. My neurologist decided to try putting me on gabapentin (neurontin), to see whether that would interrupt the incorrect electrical signals from the brain that he felt was causing this. The initial dose had no effect. He had me slowly increase the dose to the highest “safe” dosage, and it worked! Thankfully, I tolerated the drug well, and it was as though I had my life back. Obviously I did not want to have to take six pills each day for the rest of my life, so I was hopeful when he speculated that he felt the disorder would resolve within a couple years. It took two years, but I was finally able to stop taking gabapentin. I have no remaining sign of phantosmia UNLESS I am way overtired (like poor sleep for days) and stressed- in such rare instances, I have noticed glimmers of phantosmia creep back, but disappear as soon as I get more sleep and relax! Hope this helps!

I was so relieved to read you at least got rid of the obnoxious smells. I cannot imagine what your life was like during that time, most likely a nightmare. I do hope in the future there will be a way for you to regain your normal sense of smell.

I had a seizure in December of last year and fell down the stairs at my apartment and hit my head on the concrete ground. I was lucky one of my neighbors heard me outside and called for help. I got a blood clot in my brain and they had to operate it and drain the blood out of my head and there was a lot of bruising. I lost my smell too but it took some time before I even realized it. I could still taste things all right though. Maybe 3 or 4 months after my accident I realized I could smell certain things like car exhaust and it's stronger and nauseating than I remember it ever being before. I also started to notice some minor differences in taste like coffee and it tastes different now and I can smell it a little but it has a different smell to it than before. It's been a few months shy of a year since my accident and I still can only smell certain things but nothing smells the same anymore. I guess since it's been this long I may never regain my smell like before but a Dr did tell me though that the cells responsible for smell can regenerate themselves...

Basically the same mine has been about 10 years can smell pungent things like garlic or onions never talked to anyone about it

I’ve had anosmia for 29 years due to a head injury. I sometimes get what I call ‘phantom smells’. I always wonder if it has to do with an actual aroma that is not noticeable to others or a psychosomatic trigger. A perceived unpleasantness, since mine are hard to describe. Sometimes it might be very organic like the smell of healthy tissue that a surgeon might experience. Kind of weird but not bad. Other times it/they can seem almost acid-meets-sour aerosol. Example: my grandkids and dirty diapers. I don’t change them, but I know they’re around until they go to the dumpster outside. Odd...
Thanks for letting me vent

Ive had those phantom smells, the same as yours, usually organic. usually last a few minutes.

I fell down the stairs 1 1/2 months ago. I have a smell of an astringent odor 24/7. I can taste and smell other things...but this odor stays with me. It is not unpleasant but won’t go away. I am told this condition can be permanent.

Same with me.

Had a blow to the head about a month ago and lost my sense of smell and taste. Now I’m smelling an almost soapy scent and tasting the same. It’s as if I have a bit of liquid soap in my mouth. It’s been this way for a week. My hope is that is that this this is a precurser to a full return of my senses. <crossing fingers>

I fell off a ladder in May 2019 trying to get a broken branch off a tree after a bad storm. Was hospitalized with 3 brain bleeds that after a month were completely gone but lost my sense of taste and smell. I do have a very odd smell that i can only describe as a very dark roast oily coffee smell and a grease like smell, like grease from a funnel cake vendor. It's awful and as far as taste, everything tastes like nothing.

In response to Julia, 10/12/19 -- I had COVID19 in December 2020 and at the beginning of March I started to experience parosmia. The strange taste and smell you described ("as a very dark roast oily coffee smell and a grease like smell, like grease from a funnel cake vendor") is the first description I've come across to explain this taste I have had in my mouth and asscociated smell. All I have read is about people experiencing a metalic or sulfur-like or rotting food, etc. taste and smell, but none of these matched my experience. Thank you for putting words onto my experience that I didn't have the words for.

I Too had a head injury back in June 2018 and since about that time I noticed a dishy-soap taste. I also smell/ taste sulfur in everything I attempt to eat. I thought it was the new home I moved into.... but no one else complains about it like I do. It’s driving me nuts! I am certain now it’s from the concussion. So what now? Back to the E.R.? I’ll go crazy if this is permanent.

I had a head injury on 6/21/18. Since then, I think I have parosmia. I have done CT scan, MRI, been seen by ENT doctor and been seen by a neurologist. Nothing really worked. ENT doctor said if my smell does not come back in two years, chances are it's not coming back. The neurologist read a medical trial done in Taiwan and told me to try taking Zinc 10mg 3 times a day. I am also taking coconut oil, alpha-lipoic acid, and folic acid to improve nerve regeneration. My family doctor also told me to keep using Flonase . I have doing all the above for over a month. So far no sign of improvement. One huge mistake I made about one month after my injury was drinking a little bit of alcohol. It actually worsen my loss of smell. Every day I regret it. I have quit alcohol completed since then.

Wow, I’m getting the same taste-soapy, but mild. My concussion was last year at Thanksgiving. A lot of foods don’t taste the same. If I peel an orange I can smell the citrus. I haven’t been able to smell much more.

I’m wondering if there is an air quality monitor that is small enough to carry with you? My daughter lost her smell years ago and I am worried she would not be able to tell if there is gas smell or fire or anything harmful around her. This worries me.

hello I was hit on the head nearly 6 months ago with a wheel brace and suffered a sub arachnoid brain heamorrage and then as I fell to the floor I fractured my skull also,I havnt been able to smell or taste since but sometimes I get a strange chemical smell that I can't quite put my finger on I suspect reading these comments il never gain it back I worry about the safety aspect of it like fuel leaks or house fire,I'm 39 now but I'm worried il never smell cut grass again my daughter's hair or the perfume my wife used to wear 18 years ago when we 1st met my docs have said il gain it back within 6 months but I'm only 2 days away from the 6 month period,but don't get me wrong I'm lucky to still have my sight hearing a speech as the docs said I'm very lucky but I sincerely hope it returns and you guys also regain some.thanks

I totally get where you are at and have same thing! The weird chemical type smell comes and goes.. this is so frustrating and you hold hope but after 6 months it becomes emotionally challenging.. if you get any answers please let me know!

Yes. I was wanting to know this. I hit the back of my head hard and so I went on with my life but I had lost my sense of smell if you can help me

In May 2015, one day I felt like my nose was a little pit congested while talking , I went to ENT dr ,he said it is allergy and prescribed me only nasal spray after few months I started losing my smell ability gradually ,by 2017 I could not smell anything 100% for one year. Eventhough I was taking antihistamines, steroids nasal spray and singulear because I developed as an asthmatic patient. after that suddenly I got my smelling ability back for two months in March ,April 2018, I do not know what happened. Now, I smell only very strong smells and sometimes for 10 secs only I can smell everything completely ,and actually I came here looking for an answer for it

Now I am using nasal salt washing with singulear only.

I had no trauma or accident to the head. I woke up one morning and thought it was weird I couldn’t smell my breakfast..shrugged it off thinking maybe sinuses, (which I never have allergy issues or anything) 2 weeks passed maybe I was sick with respiratory issues or something.. couple months passes still nothing.... checked with my doctor and was sent to ENT. no polyps, blockage or anything. They did a scan of my head and found a pituitary tumor... my olfactory nerves aren’t damaged or anything perfectly fine and some Neuros say the tumor can cause it but some say it’s not related.... I have phantom smells all the time like pizza but I also get an ammonia smell that’s terrible. I’m also having other health issues going on idk if it’s related or not... numb tongue, migraines, left sided body numbness, burning, pain... my fingers/hands and toes turn a pale bluish color and are ice cold at times... I now have an overactive pancreas, walking up stairs now is a struggle I get short of breath, tight chest, short of breath, nausea, and dizzy. ALLLL of this started after losing my smell.... there probably more I didn’t mention that’s going on but no one can tell me what is causing any of this.... they want to send me to Vanderbilt and get check for any type of nerve damage throughout the body and other brain issues but I don’t understand if my olfactory is fine and no trauma why I can’t smell... it’s now been 6 years of no smelling and 2 gradually since then more things have came along and still continues to... idk what to do....

Have you been investigated for auto-immune disorders such as Sjogren syndrome? Sjogrens can cause many of the symptoms that you describe.

My Father slipped and fell down, which lead to a hemorrhage in the front left side of the head near the brain that developed into a blood clot. The clot is cured now and the CT Scan showed still some impacts (black marks in CT film) are there in the clot area. He is back to home and now says he couldn't sense the smell of any food or drinks. But he can identify the taste whether it is bitter or sweet or salt or spicy. Is this related to any serious issue? Please someone let me know about this. Thanks in advance.

My wife of 28 yrs. left me in aug. of '17 because she didn't want to deal with my copd. I was a pipefitter/welder for 30 yrs & used to smoke. The night she moved out I put a pistol to my forehead & pulled the trigger. Well, I must have a damn hard head! I'm still here, & I'm fine other than depression & like everyone here, lost taste & smell. Mine seemed to gradually go away. I had dental work done couple months ago & now I have a constant chemical/glue taste! It's terrible! I asked the dentist if it is related to the crowns he put on & he says no. He has never heard of this causing me to taste this. I was ready to just have him pull the 2 teeth with the crowns. But after reading all the stories here I don't know what to think. Everything tastes like some weird chemical. It sucks! I can't get an mri now cause I have bullet fragments in my sinus's. I'm going back soon for another cat scan & will ask the brain doc what he thinks. He did think I had spinal fluid leaking into my sinus's during my first follow up visit 2 months after I did it. But I had no major issues with that. I'm praying for us all to regain our senses!

I just hit my head about 30 days ago and noticed immediately a huge change, coffee doesn't taste like anything but hot water, I feel like I'm under water half the time, salads are ok to eat and some breakfast items..... Cherries taste like rubber bands and Mountain Dew was very strange to drink.... The thing I miss already is my scent.....

I lost my sense of smell after a mild concussion five years ago. Try putting cream or coconut oil in your coffee. The fats help to transmit the taste to your taste buds. I prefer the coconut oil because I always like my coffee black. Being from the Pacific Northwest I can safely say I was a still am a coffee snob.
I hope this helps. It also applies to other foods, fats help transmit taste. Sadly, we’ve lost a dimension in our lives (your underwater comment rings true, although I feel more like I’m observing reality sometimes, rather than being immersed in it), but given that there are worse senses to lose, we can cope.

I completely lost smell sense a year ago after being struck by a car while ryding on bicycle with no helmet on (use it). I had been waiting for it to return but no. Sometimes when i am in populated places i feel like i am in a movie. Being there but not at the same time. The things i used to like to eat now taste like i cannot explain, something weird and unknown.
Well i least im not blind....

I had an accident back in March 2017 and lost all ability to taste and smell. As of current, it is still 100 percent gone.

I’m really struggling with this. I have these bad “phantom smells”, but can’t actually smell anything in real life. It drives me craz.

I feel like I’m separated from the rest of the world in a way. Like I’m behind a glass wall or something. If you’re old enough, you may recall “the boy in the plastic bubble “. It reminds me of him in a way.

I only get relief when I’m busy and not thinking of smells/scents/odors. It’s also dangerous too. I can’t smell gas leaks, smoke, skunks or anything at all. I repeat myself. Forgive me.

Hopefully your ability to smell and taste will return. I consider myself fortunate that i didn’t lose my vision or hearing ability. I still struggle thought. It is very depressing.

Take care.

When I was 9 years old I was in an accident at school. I was injured when I slid into a concrete wall head first. My skull was fractured. This was 50 years ago.
Since the accident I have had no sense of smell at all and very little taste. Every thing has always been slightly off. I eat foods based on texture not taste.
I found this article interesting and I sure hate that others suffer with this as well. But at least I’m not alone.

I lost a portion of sense of smell and lived in the countryit was kind of funny really. Kentucky fried chicien and other deep fried foods took on a unique and different smell.there were other things. But the kicker was the night my dog woke me around 2am to go to the bathroom in the yard. He came back to the bedroom where my wife and i sleep. He hopped up onto the bed and snuggled in beside me. I fell asleep.
My wife woke me yelling at me that something smelt terrible!
Seemed ok to me but it appeared that Wally had lost a fight with a skunk and the dog and i needed àn emergency bath. NOW!
I bathed us and we got back to bed which was now changed. I guess the whole room and goods had an intense skunk smell for a few days. I still gets comments from my sweet girl about how could a grown man cuddle a dirty skunk smeĺling dog and not know.
It really happened. And the dog never showed a sign of guilt
Peter ottawa canada

That's funny, had a similar situation but not that bad! I was about to leave the house for work one morning when it was still dark outside. I opened the door to walk out, and there sat a skunk on the steps! It ran off, but it took a moment for me to realize I could've gotten sprayed without knowing it! I had to go back in the house to wake up my husband and ask him if I smelled like skunk :). Lost my sense of smell 6 months ago. Slipped on ice at work and smacked the back of my head on asphalt - was unconscious and concussed.

Hi all, I slipped on some ice and concussed myself a couple of months ago and now have post concussion syndrome. I didn't notice the loss of taste and smell until about 3 days after the accident...prob due to not really sensing anything past the blinding headaches! I have terrible brain fog, fatigue and constant tinnitus too. As in other posts it is the constant weird burnt plastic smell/taste that is quite depressing and puts you off eating anything. Anyway, reading some of the sites, I wondered if my sense of smell or taste would return but I have been having some sessions with a cranial osteopath and I was quite sceptical whether they would help but after the one last week I could detect if a food was sweet, bitter or spicy and after today's session I can actually detect strong smells and I am sure that I can taste more flavours. it is early days but I now have hope. I know that some of you have had issues that have lasted years and results of different 'cures' are prob dependent on the type of damage done but alternative therapies can sometimes help where trad medicine can't. good luck to you all.

Thank you for the suggestion :)
I fell backwards on the ice while skating and had a bad concussion with a small brain bleed and seizures.
I realized that I lost my taste and smells a few days after because I too suffered horrible head pain. Once I was treated with hydromorphone for the head pain I realized that I couldn't taste or smell anything. A few months later I started getting phantom smells and tastes like wood burning and burnt rubber (gross) but I am lucky to also get a sweet soapy/bubble gum taste and smell sometimes, which I prefer.
It is frustrating and depressing at times but 6 months into it I can just get the sensation of salty, sweet, peppery hot, and bitterness in my mouth. I am a texture eater now. The hardest part is that I am a foodie and I don't get to enjoy what I cook anymore and sometimes as I sit down to eat, the gross chemical/rubber burning taste and smell arrives! That is very annoying and upsetting!!
It has been a year now and I doubt this will go away but you have given me a glimmer of hope.... thank you :)

I fractured my skull about five months ago. And had bad bleeding of the brain. A few weeks later noticed I couldn't taste food or even smell it. Everything just tastes like metal

I am in the same boat. Fractured my skull and had bleeding in the brain on April 1st 2018. Everything smells n taste like metal to me too. Having a hard time coping with it..

I lost my sense of smell after a seizure 8 months ago. The only scent that has benefits for me is menthol smell. It opens up my sinuses when my allergies are acting up

I had a seizure as well- got a concussion- and lost sense of smell. My taste seems fine- and now smell some type of scent but dont recovnize it. Did yours ever get better?

2012 I slid down a handrail on my butt in Manhattan from the street down to the subway station. Unfortunately I had been drinking and my pants were extra slippery. Basically I leaned too far backwards and whiplashed the back of my head into the ground at the bottom of the steps. Needless to say, not a single person on that 86th and Lexington station stopped or even asked if I was okay. I thought I was about to die but somehow was conscious the entire time, I think. I had a multicolored half moon shape appear and all the colors were moving and I figured I had some sort of brain bleed. I had hit my head before but never to this extent. I was with one good buddy and he asked if I was okay and I said “no” which surprised me because I think that was the first time I had ever said that. Because he’s quick on his feet, he took advantage of the situation and made my buy him more beer before we took a cab to the ER. He poured his beer into a big cup which he drank next to the doctor who was taking my tests haha! The doctor was clueless as to how bad my brain was doing but also had probably seen many drunk individuals come in with minor head trauma and figured this was similar. Remember, most people in life are wimps. The doctor sends me home and I go straight to sleep (bad idea FYI) and wake up the next morning hungover so I start drinking coffee and notice I can’t taste a thing. Long story short I was unable to taste or smell anything for about two weeks. I quit drinking and only ate and drank healthy foods. I wasn’t too concerned with loosing these senses but I was very much depressed which definitely sucked. Also I had a headache for a week or so at least. Also some out of this world alien slime came out of my nose one day a week or so after the accident. It was brown and the consistency I cannot explain. It was like jello but different. Very bizarre and that freaked me out. After two weeks of not tasting anything and eating healthily I was eating a chicken breast and noticed I tasted something not even remotely close to chicken breast. It tasted like vomit mixed with steel. Really the worst taste ever. And after that everything’s else started tasting like vomity steel. But I still didn’t really care about that because I’ve never been a huge foodie. It did start getting my hopes up though because at that point I realized that I had crumpled my olfactory nerve, rather than severed it. I was still mainly concerned with the fact that I had lost interest in all my hobbies (except listening to music). Belieber still sucked so I knew my music taste had not faultered. Anyways slowly, very slowly I mean I started tasting foods KIND OF the way they used to taste. Like for a second I would taste it the real way instead of the vomit steel. And that one second became two seconds and I would start to taste different foods. That slow process took about two years for me to get what I consider being 90% of my smell and taste back. Now 6 years later I’m back doing all my old hobbies again and have my taste and smell probably about 99% back. You have to train your brain to taste and smell again. Try really hard to remember what something tasted and smelled like and TRY to taste that. That’s how I regained my senses. And be patient. Occasionally (very rarely now) I still get phantom smells of something burning. But not NEARLY as bad or long lasting as before. One time I had it so bad a couple months after I hit my head that I thought my room was on fire so I searched the entire room thinking I would find scorching flames. Needless to say everything was normal. Anyways I hope my story can give some of you hope. When I was doing all sorts of research about this phenomena after hitting my head and feeling down about everything I think I would have felt some sort of comfort in reading someone else’s story. Now I’m back to skydiving, powder skiing, just got engaged, and totally killin it at life! Keep your naugin safe. Wear a helmet.

3 years ago I fell backward on a cement sidewalk and was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma. I was in intensive care for 3 days and 3 more days in the hospital for observation and multiple CAT scans and an MRI. 2 days after I got home I realized I couldn’t smell anything. I kept trying all sorts of spices and perfumes and smelled absolutely nothing. Doctors told me it might come back on its own, but there was nothing they could do. After 4 or 5 months I noticed I could detect some odors very slightly. Very slowly my sense of smell has increased. It is very gradual and I would say I have less than 50% of it back. Some things I can smell quite well. I can smell onions when frying and rosemary and sage scents are very strong. I can smell perfume, but cannot detect one perfume from another very well. I continue to try to smell a variety of things each day hoping that will help stimulate the nerves. I hope it continues to improve, but what I have gained back is a big improvement from where I started. Hope this is encouraging to others who have suffered with Anosmia. I still have some phantom smells, but fortunately most are pleasant!

Totally with you. Although I lost the senses of taste and smell immediately after my concussion. I am struggling to accept that, as my profession is as a food and beverage manager for restaurants. How do I create wine or food menus? How do I knowingly create food and wine pairings? If I were to "fake" it, and steer my guests wrong, it could be a disaster for my company. I daily put Cedar and Fir tree extracts on a former sprain. Both are very intense aromas, but....nothing. I have lost a pound a day since the fall, many would be pleased, but this is too quick a loss, and I am concerned about my nutritional needs: fiber, vitamins, etc. When I eat ice cream I can sense creamy and cold. That is as far as it gets. Is there any hope for this condition?

Interesting story Eric, i'm glad your virtually back to normal! I fainted at home back in January and hit my head hard on the kitchen floor. Luckily I did not have a serious brain injury, just constant headaches for a week or so. Since then I have no sense of smell or taste and also get strange burning smells. Its only been 12 weeks since the injury so fingers crossed it won't be forever. How quickly life can change!

I have same problem as u said above. So i would also like to have suggestion for treatment procedure

I really appreciate this comment. Your story sounds a lot similar to what I'm going through. And is one of the few first-hand experiences that I closely can relate to. Except I would describe everything tasting and (smelling) like old, burnt, moldy, musty, gym socks... Everything except milk has a variation of this unique taste. And it's been About a year and it's not getting any better. Almost worst sometimes. But what's weird about my experience is that k also lost about 85-90 percent of my hearing in my left ear, and it's always ringing either really loudly or almost non-existent. I am definitely taking your advice and trying to remember what things used to taste like and it's helped me stomach things a little better and gives me a new small shred of hope.
Thanks, I needed it...

In November I fell hitting the back of my head. Since then nothing tastes nor smells. I'm desperate.

I was involved in a motorcycle accident 07/2017 and hit my head hard on the pavement. I had ringing in the ears and a bad headache for several days. About 5 days post accident I realized I couldn’t smell or hardly taste anything. Citrus fruit tastes strange to me now. Tastes like metallic lotion. I can tell when something has a strong smell but it doesn’t smell anything like it’s supposed to. Mainly the smell of burnt toast and plastic. It is very frustrating. I was hoping to gain smell back but I’m now 8-9 months post injury so it’s not looking good.

I had the same problem the nose an ear doctor said to take zinc supplements to bring back some of the smell and it helps

Two months ago today i suffered a gunshot wound to the head and when i was released from the hospital i lost an eye, my sense of taste, and my sense of smell. I've lost almost 60 pounds due to these losses because i had no urge to eat or drink anything and when i did eat or drink i had to force myself to do so. But, thankfully my taste came back right before Thanksgiving (Thank the Lord up above) but i still cant smell anything. If anyone knows anyway to help your body get that sense back please let me know how you did it because at this moment i am 2,000+ miles away from my fiance and i pack one of her shirts with me and lord knows id give my other eye just to be able to smell her scent at least one more time.

I had an accident around 11 months ago , I was a pedestrian who got hit by a car, I was 18 at the time . I suffered a subdural hematomma as well as a hemmorage in the brain and as a result of this TBI I lost my sense of smell which impacted my sense of taste also . At the beginning when the swelling was still there , I couldn't smell or taste a thing! Around 2-3 months later I begun burping randomly , it wasn't a normal burp ... every time I burped I felt this disgusting taste/smell .. almost like rotten eggs and some sort of gas , somehing that I cannot explain in words. Everything I put into my mouth after that tasted like what I had smelt/tasted when I burped and I found it hard to eat .. I realised that dry foods such as crackers also had that horrible taste but the taste wasn't as intense. I later on got used to eating everything with the horrible taste still there . one thing I cannot eat though is anything orange flavoured ... it tastes exactly how a damp dog smells ... picture that if you can. I can taste sweet, bitter, sour or spicey but I cannot make out what I am eating as I cannot smell a thing .... all these flavours also mix with the disgusting flavour I mentioned previously ... it just all makes no sense , it's terrible but I've learnt to live with it and I'm managing pretty well . Chocolate is something that I cannot eat also , tastes like how soil smells with a mixed in flavour of that horrible smell that never seems to go away .

I'm dealing with the same thing I got hit in the back of the head at first for 5 months I couldn't taste or smell anything now for 2 months I have got this horrible taste that I can't explain it's very depressing I don't know what to do but anything sweet and the smell is worse can't take it my heart is broke because I can't taste or smell

I had that. REALLY sucked big time. Was worse than not tasting or smelling anything at all! And now 6 years later Im probably close to 100% recovered in regard to smell and taste. Goodluck. Don’t hit your head again!