Anosmia or Loss of Smell from Brain Injury

Question: 

My friend had a brain hemorrhage from a blow to the head 10 years ago and has completely lost his sense of smell. Apparently, the part of his brain that controls his sense of smell was permanently damaged.

Is it possible that even though the brain does not recognize or register any kind of smell, the effects of that smell still be experienced? For example, even though he can’t smell coffee or lavender, could he still get stimulating effects of the coffee aroma or the relaxation effects of the scent of lavender?

Answer: 

Smell loss following traumatic brain injury is often overlooked as doctors tend not bother to ask about or test for loss or change in smell — or taste for that matter. Many times, people with brain injury first report changes in taste when they lose or notice a change in their ability to smell. Typically, complete loss of smell — or what is called anosmia — will be quite noticeable to a person following a traumatic brain injury and may affect numerous aspects of their life. Unfortunately, there is no good treatment cure for post-traumatic anosmia. Typically, if a person doesn’t regain his ability to smell six months after the injury, the loss will likely be permanent.

Because of the complex mechanisms involved in olfaction — a person’s sense of smell — it’s difficult to determine the reason for the loss. Problems with smell loss can result from craniofacial trauma, specifically damage to nasal passage ways, shearing injury of the olfactory nerve, or injury to primary or secondary smell centers in the frontotemporal regions of the brain. There are also other non-traumatic causes for smell impairment including Alzheimer’s disease and smoking, to name just two. This is why it’s important for people with this type of problem to seek out appropriate evaluation by a doctor familiar with post-traumatic smell loss.

If your friend is truly anosmic, that is, he has totally lost his sense of smell, then he would probably not recognize or register any kind of smell since the olfactory nerve is responsible for scent recognition. Therefore, your friend would not benefit from smelling any substance. That said, we don’t have a lot of research on this. Some people have anecdotally described “blind smell” similar to blind sight (a phenomenon in which people who are perceptually blind in a certain area of their visual field demonstrate some response to visual stimuli), and it wouldn’t hurt for your friend to try and experiment with smells.

 

Posted on BrainLine September 20, 2010. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

Comments (281)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

I lost all sense of smell in March this year after suffering a fractured skull and bled to the brain . Although it doesn't affect my day to day life, I've really missed it .. I wasn't given any advice by the doctors as to whether it will ever return , as I don't think they know .. Certain foods taste strange now also .

I wish I can smell. My sense of smell left in late December early January. I was visiting my brother for the holidays, A terrible flu/cold was going around my nieces had severely bad colds which I caught. It's now the end of July, my sense of smell hasn't return as of yet..... Hoping/Praying it returns, I know God's timing. I miss the smell of food of course but Perfume, people natural scents, outdoors, bar bee que.... List go on & on....

I suffered a brain injury back in 99 lost my taste and smell, before my smell went completely away I could only smell a sweet blood scent. One year later my taste came back, but not like before. I need salt on my food to really be able to taste. As for my smell it's completely gone. Sometimes I can sense scents in the air by taste, but that rarely happens.

I fell on ice and had bleeding at the front and rear of my brain over 6 years ago. Concussion for sure with strong headache and nausea for a week.  Found out by accident a week later after headache gone that I couldn't smell most things - didn't realize it because my sense of taste was still present.  I can smell many things - savory cooking, coffee brewing, chemical smells, a skunk, however, they don't smell like they used to.  One strange thing, sometimes a certain smell will seem to linger, sometimes for days.  Currently, a musty smell I was exposed to for over an hour in a basement yesterday is still staying with me.  I know it's not present because my wife has a strong sense of smell.  I don't miss most poop odors - human and dog. I can also barely detect decomposition, as in a dead animal in the woods, etc. 

I fell out of a car and hit my head. Apparently, this caused bleeding at or near my olfactory nerve. Was given steroids. I had no sense of smell or taste, everything tasted the same..not good.. an M&M tasted just like, well... anything else. I tried eating the hottest chicken wings to see if it made any difference, no problem eating them. However, my stomach disagreed, I wound up vomiting... and it tasted the same. Sigh! Over the years I think I regained some taste back.... i prefer extreme spice.. hot or sweet, milder seasonings do nothing. On the brighter side... offensive odors don't bother me... I sure don't stink. (c;{ 

I lost my smell after head surgery, a few weeks ago, March 2015. I had a tumor removed from my meninges, very near to where the olfactory system is. My doctor said he hadn't touched the olfactory while operating, but I'm not so sure. I can't smell anything, not even the strong smells of coffee or ammonia. I miss smelling the scents of nature, like freshly mown grass, the salty sea, the trees and flowers, a summer breeze... it seems like I am walking inside a movie... What I do have is a constant sweet soapy/powdery smell and taste, which spoils even the faint basic tastes when I am eating something. I have this same taste/smell all day long and am growing sick of it... :((

I know I have to be grateful that the operation has only affected my sense of smell and not my hearing, touch or eyesight, and I am thankful. But I'm also very sad about not being able to smell anything.

I notice that people don't really understand the impact it has on my life... even my husband occasionally remarks "Why, you must be able to smell thís!" 

I hope and pray it will eventually be restored, although this might take months or even years... 

Hang in there, everyone! Glad to have found this post! <3

I lost my sense of smell 14 years ago after a head injury!! I struggle from time to time because of the fact I can't smell my kids and my pet and the fresh morning smell!! What is real concerning is that I can't smell toxic fumes at work and god forbid a fire when I'm home alone!! Live in a rural area right on a canyon !! I wish there is something I can do !!! Help !!

I came off my bike in January this year and was hospitalised for 2 weeks with a fractured skull, internal bleeding and bruising at the front of my brain. Aside from a few concentration issues and headaches, I have recovered really well - youth being on my side. Initially, I completely lost my smell and taste. Only after 8 weeks or so did I start to develop a constant sweet burning smell. I'm hoping it's the cells healing and signs my smell is returning. I find this constant smell sickening and I'm scared that I will be like this for the rest of my life. The response I seem to get is "you're lucky it wasn't your sight or hearing" which really isn't helpful! People don't understand the effect it has on you. I miss little comforts, like how my boyfriend smells or curling up in clean bed sheets after a long day or freshly mown grass. I recently celebrated my 21st birthday and it was sad to not be able to taste my cake or have a glass of champagne. I'm really struggling to deal with it so it's really comforting to hear that other people are in the same position and that things do get better. I wish you all the best with your recovery!

On January 6th I slipped on the ice and fell backwards cracking the back of my head on macadam in the driveway. I suffered a subdural hematoma and subarachnoid hemmorage and was in ICU for 10 days. I didn’t realize that I had lost my sense of smell and some taste until 3 weeks after the fall. I couldn't smell anything. Then I noticed I could smell only a couple of things like oregano, cloves and garlic, but only slightly. Then a very unpleasant noxious smell and taste appeared which is sickening at times. For some reason, some days can be worse than others. The only time I can escape this smell and taste is when I am sleeping and worry that I may have to live with this for the rest of my life. I am lucky to not have suffered other disabilities but it doesn't make this any easier to deal with. I can see that I am not alone but I wish there were more people who said that it eventually got better. Doctors just say that it is a waiting game.

I lost my sense of smell in 2000.  I did not have a head injury , i had viral pneumonia.  It took me a while to realize this. it wasn't until a month later when I experienced a phantom smell of flowers and no one else could smell them, that i began to realize it was gone. Totally!! Having a brain scan confirmed this. It seems a virus can attack the brain also .  My sense of taste took about 5 plus years to go.  Now here is what I am tryng to figure out , It seems my nose is closing in, as though not needed anymore so close it in,  Is this normal, ,  I  now sleep with my mouth open, have trouble singing ( as though my vocal cords are drying out..  etc etc etc.   . maybe some readers have experienced the same,   thank you. marisol laux

To the last person to comment, just a couple of days ago,

Please stay strong. I've been where you are. I had a brain injury last October. I have anosmia now because of it. For weeks I was scared, depressed, anxios and angry. This coupled with my already existing anxiety and depression. Slowly I got better. It takes different lengths of time. Unfortunately doctors can't give us reasonable time frames on these injuries as they can other injuries. But you will get better. Research calming techniques and have belief you will get better. You will. Concentrate on that first then deal with anosmia. Stay strong and reach out to loved ones. 

I suffered a traumatic brain injury 2-1/2 weeks ago and as many of you, lost my sense of taste and smell. I am in pain, I am dizzy, my head is heavy and sore, my ear, neck and shoulders as well.  I cannot concentrate, I am forgetful, I am fearful of noises and of falling.  I pray to God that I will be myself again after this frightening accident and that I will be able to taste and smell life again.  Dear God, please help.  Sincerely.

I fell down some concrete stairs 3 months ago and split the back of my head open.  I had an MRI and they said I had a slight concussion.  I was off work for 6 weeks and still on a gradual return to work plan.  I am grateful I have all my parts and accessories, and I can eat, stand, steep, and walk, but I too have no sense of smell whatsoever.  I can taste sweet, salty, bitter, and sour but not too much flavour.  Sometimes I think its just the memory or texture that brings pleasure in eating some things.  I try to follow my previous routines on hygiene and cleaning as I have no idea if anything smells bad, and am careful now that I don't eat anything that might have gone bad or expired. Of all the medical professionals I saw, not one mentioned or asked about the sense of smell or taste (family doctor, concussion clinic occupational therapist, neurologist).  I had to bring it up each time.  It is a loss and it does suck, but it could be worse, and I thank God for everything else that I have going for me.  It is comforting to know others are going through the same issues, and I am just thankful its not something worse.  God bless

December 19th.,  2014, I slipped and fell backwards hitting my head on the ice while I was curling. I suffered a severe brain trauma. 3 months later I still have no sense of taste or smell, but all else is just fine. I am lucky to be alive and with no complications. This could have been a lot worse, I have moved on, I suggest that a loss of sense and smell is not the end of the world.

Why hasn't there been research to find a cure for Ansomia? I have had the condition for 7 years at have learned to cope but sometimes I just get so depressed. Why can't I smell and taste dammitt! Why do I have to arm myself with extra fire alarms and extinguishers to make sure that my mother with dementia is safe. Sometimes just get so sad at what my life once was

Oh wow.... despite the depressing reality of our situations, I'm glad to have stumbled upon you all while researching my problem. Comfort in numbers I suppose.

I injured my brain 7 months ago during an epileptic seizure. Slammed the back of my head repeatedly against a concrete floor. For the first 2 months I had completely diminished sense of taste and smell. First a very small ability to taste returned. It was tiny, but a victory, and yes I'm aware this goes against the common knowledge that you can't taste without the ability to smell. It wasn't the same as before though. Then smell returned,lightly. The problem is for the most part, it is the same sickening smell and taste I've grown to hate. Almost everything tastes and smells the same. From my shampoo to burgers to fruit, etc....it's almost impossible to describe. A very distinct flavor/odor, and it's ever present. Even the air smells like it. 

My condition has "evolved" over the months, giving me hope for further improvement.There are a very select few things I consume that taste normal. Maple syrup, peanut butter, Dr. Pepper soda pop (no other soda tho..), and a couple other items I relish in eating now. I don't know why certain few items never changed, while everything else tastes/smells terrible. Every perfume smells identical and disgusting.

I know my window for healing is closing.I see everyone saying we have 6 months to a year to heal or be stuck forever with this. Nobody understands how mad I am. It's very frustrating. I've always enjoyed cooking for others. That enjoyment is gone as I cannot gauge flavors and smells. terrible affliction

I am so glad to have come upon this site.  A little over four weeks ago I fell slamming my head on the outside edge of a shower stall.  I have no memory of the accident, not even getting up and getting dressed!  I spent two days in the hospital and the first day I noticed I had no sense of taste.  My smell is gone also.  I did walk by two women smoking and could faintly smell the smoke.  Also rode a bus and could smell diesel.  Hoping that is a good sign.  I do feel depressed at times.  I want to smell my clean laundry, fresh air, and know whether or not I smell!  And to taste food again...that would be wonderful.  I can sense salt, sour, sweet, and minty gum.  I find myself eating for texture and making myself eat - though sometimes I feel very hungry.  I don't understand why physicians take this issue so lightly. It can be very serious...  I pray we all get at least some smell/taste back.  Best of luck to all. 

I was in a accident 7 years ago where I fractured my skull and had a bleed to the brain, I stayed in hospital for a few weeks and experienced a change in my behaviour, my eye turned inwards for a month or two, and I lost my ability to taste and smell. At this time I was 14 years old and found this hard to deal with I suffered with depression for a long time and lost all of my confidence I found it so frustrating as to why this had happened to me and no one understood how I was feeling. I gave now accepted that I will never be able to taste and smell again and am trying to move on with my life however I do still suffer with very painful headaches down the left side of my face :( I used to think I was the only person in the world this happened to it is comforting to here all of your stories. One thing I have learned is that you have to stay patient and take each day as it comes as there is no cure must stay positive x

I was in a motorcycle accident back in April of 2013, I fractured my skull in 3 places due to the fact that I was intoxicated and had no helmet on (SC has no helmet law).  My family was told that I would not live, then told I would not walk and other things but I'm fine now.  I have the report with several different medical terms of "brain damage" but I have absolutely no sense of smell what so ever, my temper is extremely out of control at times also.  I had lost my sense of taste for a few months but it has returned.  My question is, (and I hope its not true) will this put me at a disability or disadvantage to working, I'm a journeyman Ironworker but I dont want to have to be a pencil pusher.

I found this blog very interesting. My husband was in a four wheeler accident in 2009 and has completely lost his sense of smell and taste. I met him in 2011 and its heart breaking that he has never smelled me or able to enjoy the flavor of the food I cook for him. He has a great outlook on it and says things could have been worse but I am still hopeful for a cure in the future. He is only 27 years old and I want him to be able to have these senses back. It's nice to know we are not alone when it comes to his condition.

These comments are so interesting, especially the more recent ones. I was assaulted by my ex boyfriend who picked me up and threw me into the floor of our apartment. I had a fractured skull, and a concussion. I noticed my loss of smell in the hospital while eating fruit. This was December 4, 2014, and today I still cannot smell most things. However, I do have this really odd smell lately. It gives me a headache sometimes, and is not pleasant, mostly with sweets or yogurt. I'm optimistic, and glad that it's SOMETHING, even if it's not the greatest smell in the world. I haven't lost any weight, I eat a lot of the same things. I miss my sense of smell mostly because I loved horchata, sour cream, and coffee. It's almost been 3 months and I'm just hoping I get some sort of smell back, even if it's not as well as it used to be.

Interesting to see so many challenged by the loss of smell, which I know eventually leads to the loss of taste. My anosmia came on gradually after a severe whiplash in a car accident that occured December 26, 2005. I first realized my loss of smell when I could not smell toast burning or something I left in the oven or on the stove burning. The loss of smell of organic smells like garbage, coffee brewing, etc. was the first to go. I could smell high smells like vinegar and bleach still. Within 6 months I could no longer smell any of those too. When I told my doctor he sent me to an ENT, who confirmed there were no ENT injury and my loss was put down to do with my age. Really, I was only 50 not 90!!! stupid eh? Any how, I did not know it could be linked back to the traumatic brain injury of the accident until going for surgery on my shoulder, which was also caused by the accident 1-1/2 years later, I mentioned my loss of smell to the anesthesiologist and he asked me if I had sustained a whiplash injury. Finally, I have an answer to my loss. Im sure my fellow anosmians can agree, we get tired of the jokes about bad smells, and explaining when someone asks to smell their perfume, flowers, etc. :-) I just pretend. Everything smells great to me.  I carry a timer on me when I cook, invested in more fire sensors for the house and ensure the gas barbeque is lit. On the positive side I was able to lose 70 lbs because I was not lured to the smells of popcorn etc. however, I do miss the homey smells of thanksgiving and Christmas. Has anyone lost their sense of taste for peppermint and garlic?

Lets focus on what senses we still have, touch, sound and sight and I hope someday, researchers will find a way to restore what we all have lost. KC

I lost my sense of taste and smell 6 years ago. I fell backwards and smacked my head pretty good. I was told by the neurologist if it didnt come back in 6 months it probably never will. The first few years were hard. I missed not smelling perfume, the rain, food. I had always had an excellent sniffer so the downside was all the rotten smells were magnified. I dont miss smelling rotten breath and B.O. lol. Seriously though its hard for people to understand. They truly dont get it. I like the comment someone made about this being a super power. I work in a nursing home and not being able to smell is a blessing. I try to remember my accident could have been much worse.

You're being like my situation ..take care

Beware of the MRI following head injuries. I had a head injury and healed from it then a month later had a follow-up MRI that toasted my smell and taste permanently! Guessing that 20% of those who have lost taste and smell after a head injury lost it from the MRI and don't even know it - unless they had a burger on the way to the hospital and one immediately after the MRI.

Hello out there to whomever is reading this. On January 17th I experienced my first head injury and ended up with a fractured skull and internal bleeding. I have completely lost my sense of smell and taste. Tonight I celebrated my Birthday and ate some flavorless birthday cake for the first time in my life. No one truly knows how it feels unless they've been in these tasteless/scentless shoes. I felt alone until I stumbled onto these comments and I feel grateful for all of these stories. I have honestly been feeling sad about the inability to enjoy food and it's good to hear others feeling the same. Here is to gaining some good positivity that this will return soon. I wish all of you the same!!

Fell and fractured my skull three months ago. I lost my sense of smell and taste. a month or so ago I was able to smell coffee and taste it a bit. I was also able to completely taste an orange jelly candy. I have not given up and it helps to ready other's stories.

To all my fellow TBI friends...i fractured the back of my skull and had bleeding on my brain etc..mid November. I'm still suffering with dizziness...it feels like I'm on a fairground waltzer a lot of the time. But!!...my sense of smell and taste is non-existent. I joked about it at first with my family, laughing about it but now I don't want to actually admit how much it is affecting me. I ate yesterday for the first time in four days. I'm finding myself getting a phobia about food, I can't taste or smell it so I don't want it. The only thing I can really eat is jacket potatoes..it's the only texture I can really handle. I'm also washing myself lots in a day because I'm constantly paranoid that I may stink...haha. My neurologist has told me it's possible my senses will come back within two yrs...but chances are they won't ever. I know everybody here who's stories I've read are going through near enough the same thing as me, I've been starting to get really down about it. I'm making any excuse to not leave my house etc....but I don't want my nearest and dearest to know how much it is affecting me, I keep saying to myself that I'm just making a big deal out of it all...it's s**t what has happened to us all but with all my love I hope each and everyone of us gets to smell a roast beef dinner and a fish and chip supper again :) take care everybody, I don't feel alone anymore xxx

I'm so glad I found this post.  No longer feel so alone with this.  I too suffered trauma to brain after a fall about 2 months ago.  Unless it is something you are experiencing, others just don't comprehend the impact that not being able to smell has on a person.... My doctors were even somewhat "casual" on the subject.  Offering no counsel other than "maybe it will return"....  In the last few weeks I too have been noticing a strange smell, or "sense" of smell, more predominately in late afternoon and evening.  It is pretty constant.  The smell has nothing to do with surroundings or what item I may actually be trying to smell.   It isn't a pleasant smell, but can't really describe it.  Maybe somewhat like a metal smell described by others in the post.  I'm hoping it's a start to some regenerating in the olfactory areas of the brain.  I am going to keep positive as the brain has extraordinary healing capabilities, but it can take some time....  I'd hate to think I'll never recover my sense of smell.  There are so many memories, etc associated with smell.....  Also, to all please remember to have working fire alarms in your home and be sure to open windows when using cleaning agents.  I've even heard it suggested to not have gas and use electric stoves, etc.  It makes sense as there are dangers associated with lack of smell... Let's stay positive and support one another...  :-)...

I lost my sense of smell from crashing a quad and hitting the back of my head. To those of you who say they have a weird burning, metallic smell every time you breathe in through your nose don't worry it will go away eventually. I have know idea what it was or why it was happening. It was nauseating and there was nothing I could do about. It went away within a year. I don't remember exactly how long because I tried my hardest to ignore it. It's been almost 5 1/2 years since my accident. The only things I can smell are fresh bark mulch, even though it smells like maneur it's still amazing lol, sharpies, peanut butter when I'm rinsing off the knife under hot water and mint leaves. I've noticed when watching tv and an ad comes on for food I get a sense of what it smells like, which is weird because when I try to think of what something smells like I can't remember. I'm interested to hear what other people with the same injury smell if anything at all. Good luck and hang in there. You're not alone!

I am a newbie.  I fell on January 11, 2015 on the back of my head crossing a creek, so it has only been 8 days.  From what I can tell the jarring and the swelling are what impede the olfactory nerves in rear-skull injury cases.  I probably have not offered my head enough rest to heal faster.  Apparently brain swelling can take a very long time to subside.  I smelled a cigar yesterday and I knew what it was...no strange phantom odor.  I live in a remote location and rely upon all of my senses so I was keenly aware of the loss soon after the accident.  My sense of taste is diminished, but I think it is making me eat more, not less...I keep having just one more bit hoping I can savor it.  Thank you all for sharing - thank goodness for the internet...I'm not even sure what site I am on but I feel better informed, and not so alone.

I had a brain injury nearly 3 years now from a violent attack being in the wrong place at the wrong time by 3 of them I still cant smell anything and part of my taste has gone to which I had front lobal damage my mood swings often change to I learn to cope with it now been on tablets for brain injury since 2012 still on them and sleeping tablets to I've been told by consultants that I will never get it back now still smell the burning and taste the burning to

Having lost my sense of smell due to syncope and falling backwards onto my head I've come to understand were the myth of the "third eye" originates. It's our sense of smell. It's located in the olfactory bulb/epithelium nerves between the eyes. It provided me with years of subtle and profound insights. Though "etheric " in relation to other senses, smell is one of our most refined senses, imagine blindness with smell. Imagine blindness without smell.

Everything is on loan so my reasoned response to my condition is gratitude for the years of smelling I possessed. 

I am a T.B.I. accident March 2013 . I lost my smell , but have a horrible burning SMELL . Can anyone tell me why ?

since I lost my taste and smell 6 months ago after a truly bad cold in my head, the only smell I get is this awful, indescribable constant smell in my nose - especially when I am confronted with toast, coffee, any kind of meat (including and especially my cat's food) and I can't smell anything that I am cooking. I made carrot and coriander (cilantro) soup today and all I could smell was that same sour metallic smell that I get all the time. I am desperate.

I lost my smell from my tbi. I didn't even know it til after a couple months after. I so want to smell anything, I miss it so much. Even bad smells. It's been 5 years since my tbi. I wish it could be fixed but it can't. I get the aweful tastes and smells as well, always something different. I so want to even smell people. It's weird not to smell perfume. Cologne. Sweat with people.

IN MAY OF THIS YEAR, I FELL OF A GOLF CART AND HIT THE BACK OF MY HEAD. DIDNT HAVE ANY CONTUSIONS. JUST A BIG BRUISE AND BUMP. AND A CONCUSSION. GOT AN MRI THAT CAME UP CLEAR. THE NEXT DAY AFTER MY ACCIDENT I NOTICED I COULD NOT SMELL OR TASTE ANYTHING AT ALL. I WOULD TRY EVERY DAY TO SMELL GARLIC, COFFIE, ANYTHING THAT WAS STRONG IN ODOR AND HAD NO LUCK. THEN, IN THE LAST TWO MONTH IVE SLOWLY STARTED TO REGAIN WHAT I BELIVE IS A SLIGHT SENCE OF SMELL. I CAN SMELL THE STRAIGHTH OF THINGS. WHEN I SMELL COFFEE, I CAN SMELL THAT IS A STRONG SMELL. AND GARLIC HAS A VERY DISTINCT STRONG SMELL THAT IS DIFFERNT FROM THE SMELL  I GET FROM COFFEE. I KNOW THEY ARE NOT THE NORMAL SMELLS, BUT ITS SOMETHING. I GET WEIRD TASTES IN MY MOUTH NOW AND THEN AND WEIRD SMELLS THAT IM ASSUMING ARE WHAT ARE DESCRIBED AS PHANTOM SMELLS. IM HOPING ALL OF THIS IS A SIGN THAT I AM SLOWLY RECOVING. I AM WRITING THIS TO TELL EVEYONE WHO IS LOSING HOPE, DONT! JUST BECAUSE A DR TELLS YOU IT WONT COME BACK DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN THEY ARE RIGHT. KEEP HOPE. AS OF TODAY, I CAN SMELL THE STRENGTHS OF THINGS AND I AM CONSTANTLY TRYING TO SMELL DIFFERENT ODORS. I WILL KEEP UPDATING ON MY IMPROVEMENT. AND IF ANYONE HAS QUESTIONS OR WANTS TO SHARE THEIR RECOVERY SYMPTOMS OR WORDS OF HOPE, PLEASE DO. 

I fainted while in a pizza restaurant, came to on the ground looking up. Since then my sense of smell has diminished and been altered. I didn't even hit my head that hard. There was no welt, only a minor abrasion on the back of my head. This was about 4 months ago. I don't know what to do until I get medical insurance so that I can go see a doctor. Some things I can smell much better than others, like fruits and vegetables, cilantro is a winner. This is all still very stressful.

Have you recovered? Did you have any CT or MRI for head injury?

Don't give up hope. several years ago, I hit the back of my head skiing and lost my sense of smell 100%. It was very depressing. Very hard to explain to other people the overwhelming sense of loss the I felt. You don't realize, until it's gone, how much emotion and memory is linked with the sense of smell. It was almost as if someone close to me had died and I was mourning their loss. Anyway, after my accident the doctor I saw told me if it didn't come back in a week or two, that it likely never would. For the next couple years I resigned to thinking that it was gone forever. It wasn't until a friend of a friend visited, who was a neurosurgeon in Miami, that I had a little hope. He said, "don't give up hope. Nerve damage is very, very slow to heal. Your smell may still come back." Sure enough, after about three years, I started to pick up on some smells. The first things I could smell were bad things. Like rotting fish and garbage. But honestly, it was good to smell anything! Over the course of the next year or two, I regained almost all of my ability to smell. Now it's back in full. Maybe not 100%, but very close. You are correct that there is very little info available. At least now there is much more available on the Internet. My accident was in 2000, so there wasn't much of any resources. Hang in there. You are not alone. Eat well. Get lots of sleep. And perhaps look into getting some cranio sacrel therapy. That is something that could help expedite your recovery.

I had my head injury mid September 2014, fell and hit back of my head on pavement and have lost sense of smell and with it taste. The medical world do not appear to have any interest in this area, with 0 follow up or advice on the issue.  It's very depressing, although I have only suffered for a short time I guess going by what I have read you get to use to it.  I'm in hope that the nerve cells will eventually connect back.  It's interesting to see that the medical  world are using the ability of these cells ( near the olfactory nerve) to regenerate can be use to plant new nerves for spinal cord injuries helping people to walk again, let's hope they starting researching on how to help those of us who have anosmia , I guess the cells can re-grow but in a lot of cases the pathway is blocked due to the head trauma.

Just came across this whilst writing, looks promising for people who have this condition in the UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-19786773

​One taste I do come across now and then is some meat or fried products taste like what I think car oil would taste like - weird - puts me right off, mostly in processed foods too! 

I haven't looked into my loss of smell for a couple decades but after reading the bbc tonight about helping someone walk again using olfactory nerve sheaths I thought id check in to see where technology is for my broken sniffer. I had a car accident 20 years ago while driving an old 1963 toyota land cruiser. It only had lap belts because I was saving up for a full seat belt harness (I was only 19 and it came with nine) anyway it flipped and I smashed my forehead on the broken off steering column and gashed my head 7cm. Other than a crushed hand and amputated index finger I came out alright until I realised I had liar my sense of smell. Honestly it didn't bother me too much. In part because I was only 20 and also because I had such a traumatic hand injury that took precidence. My MRI showed a little bean-sized bit of damaged brain tissue that no doubt cut of the circuitry to my nose. The doctor said it would probably come back in a year or so. I continued on to study psychology in university and learnt that the olfactory nerves grow very slowly back trough the mylean sheath. It can take upto 2-3 years. In many head injuries when the brain shifts inside the skull the nerves are cut above the palette where they run. (Or something close to that if I can remember). In my case regeneration was not a likely outcome because the pathways were actually impeded with an isolated are of brain damage specific to my olfactory function in my frontal lobe. It hasn't bothered me a whole lot . Always have to remember most smells are bad... Usually for survival reasons. That being said, I still remember one day at home alone shortly after my accident I burnt three pizza lunches in the oven one after the other. I realised then that it could get dangerous. I don't get hungry until I'm ravenous because no smells trigger my sense. I have not lost any weight and still love to eat. As others mentioned, there is a whole new world of discovery in the fine balances of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Yes 80% of my taste is gone and whe I first had coffee after my crash it tasted like an ashtray. A few phantom smells and dreams of smells, but those have mostly faded as time has passed. I too love Mexican food, it's the perfect balance of texture and spiciness for a senseless eater. Beer does not all taste the same. American lagers still taste aweful. I've grown to love West Coasr Pale Ales and many IPAs. Bitterness is the key. Sweet or mildly sweet beers are disgusting. Light beers need to be dry like Asahi. Lime in Corona is also still good. The other thing you can expect over time is a sharpened acuteness of your other senses. Although I often don't know dinner is almost ready or that it's raining because of the smell of wet asphalt, I often hear the rain first or see smoke before anyone else. That has come with time. One scary instance happened in our home. It's a small cabin and I must have bumped the gas stove knob with my child's foot while carrying him. He left with mum and I took the dogs for a 45 min walk. When I got back I walked into the cabin and went over to the stove. I could hear a breeze... Although it wasn't. It was the gas running out full bore. I quickly shit it off luckily not setting off the igniter clicker. I ran outside and opened up all the windows. the scary thing is it happened again 4 months later. That time it was on for hours. I wired the house for an electric stove... Lastly I too being into twenties, going out a lot etc was panamoid of being smelly. If have friends tell me if a shirt smelled or asked them to sample deodorants. I'd just tell them or girlfriends that they'd have to be my nose. I never was that stinky anyway and now I worry a lot less about that. Keep showered, a little pit stick once and a while and drink a pint of IPA with a spicy burrito and you're good as new...

30 years ago, I hit the back of my head when I slipped on rocks in a river. The only smells that get through are garlic, onion, Indian spices, and some chemical cleansers. I guess that if you are to lose a sense, smell isn't the worst. I can taste, but I do not think it is as strong as it should be.

I recently fell three stories and cracked my front plate and back plate in my skull and got a concussion. Ever since my sense of smell has been almost non existent

had tbi 3 1/2 yrs ago from motorcycle accident. total loss of smell and taste is about 25 percent. i keep hoping it may come back some but nope. every once in awhile i smell something, i get exited but cannot tell you what i smell? weird

i try not to put to much salt on food but thats what i can taste

i do miss smelling, food, rain, the air, cut grass ect  i keep optimistic

I've lost my sense of smell and taste for a year now from my brain being damage, all thanks to a driver in his vehicle. He decided to randomly stop full force on a 70km road, I believe 50mph in the US, to take a left turn not looking at his rear view mirror to see a motorcycle behind him. My father took action right away to stop, but stopping full force on so sudden with a bike is not easy. I flew 6-10feet off the back seat of the bike and landed face first on the opposite lane. Long story short, that accident cause me a lot of suffering, not just senses gone, but having traumatic brain injury, numbness on the left side of the body, problems picking up items from time to time and epilepsy along with losing senses for the rest of my life. It is just difficult. I was very lucky to make it alive, but now I suffer at a young age of 21 thanks to a 19 year old's careless driving. I try to smell but nothing happens. As for taste, only things that I can barely taste, as in 5% out of 100% taste of food that has lots of salt, sugar, and spice in its recipe, which from what I read up, is a natural common thing for lost of taste. Losing these senses ended up to ruin my diet after dropping 40 pounds before the accident. It's difficult to accept the loss of your senses after you relied on it for many years, and coping to your diet. I wish that I could meet with a dietitian who is skilled in the fields of helping a person contain to their diet properly knowing the loss of their sense of smell and taste. These senses do in fact, take an impact. Cause depression, and difficult in the foods you eat. There is a method though suggested by herb specialists, for those who lost their smell, apparently peppermint liquid/oil helps regain the smell back for you. I have not yet tried the method even though I've been given a sample of it, only because this method takes months before you'll start to notice a difference. Not only that, but I am afraid to take a step forward in taking this action to try it out. I've been pretty much scarred you could say. 

Thanks everyone for your comments and stories. It's heartening to have the confirmation that I'm not alone in having lost sense of taste and smell after TBI 17 months ago, and it's good for me to be reminded that other people sustained their TBI in horrendous circumstances, unlike me. Sympathy to those who suffered massive psychological trauma as well as physical injuries. My specialist says there's nothing else he can do (he didn't do much except peer into my nose, eyes and mouth, and test my hearing) and recommends positive thinking (!!).My sense of taste is almost nil (special treat of potato crisps for texture and salty taste doesn't even yield the salty part now), but smell (previously totally absent) seems to be doing something, though things don't always smell and don't smell as they should - coffee = slightly burnt toast, for example - not a good trade! Was feeling a bit down, so pleased to read about people experiencing improvement well beyond the 12 month mark my specialist gave me. Positive thinking - even when I can detect bad smells they don't smell bad, negative side - it's usually my turn to empty the compost bucket!

I got a concussion, and also lost my taste and lost my sense of smell. I happen to go to a chiropractor for my headaches, and immediately following my first adjustment, I began to smell again and taste some food. As I have continued, to go it has gotten better. I'm not sure how common this is to fix the problem, but it's worth a shot. Hope this helps!

HI had my TBI years ago in a MVA where stearing columb penatrated centre fronatal lobe, total removal of olfactory buds the result, damage to hyperthalmus .

For a while i could remember tast, sufficiently that i enjoyed food whilst from the look of occasional freinds it was less than pleasant.

As the years have passed i have lost all sense of food bar texture ..

as a result appetite has gone and i have serious weight loss ... Any advice most appresciated

René

I have a family member who was constantly smelling something bad, like they had a sinus infection or something. They also had some other weird aches and pains. the doctors couldn't find anything and finally told her to go to a psychiatrist because it was all in her head. After a cat scan or an MRI they found that she had built up water around her pituitary gland and they had to put in a shunt to drain the water.  Afterwards all the weird symptoms went away. the water was reaching into different parts of her brain and causing weird symptoms. 

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