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How a traumatic brain injury can affect your sense of smell

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2021 | Personal Injury

Anosmia is the scientific term for the inability to perceive scents. Like many people, you may underestimate your sense of smell and assume you could get along fine without it. However, people who acquire anosmia later in life often report that it changes their lives in ways they did not anticipate.

A slip and fall or motor vehicle accident could cause a traumatic brain injury that results in anosmia. The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center explains how this can happen and why it is important.

How can anosmia result from an accident?

A traumatic brain injury could damage the olfactory centers of your brain. These are the areas that process information collected from particles in the air that stimulate nerves in the nose. The olfactory centers of the brain are part of the temporal lobe, which is a bottom section of the brain along the side.

Anosmia can also occur if there is damage to the nerves that send olfactory data to your brain. The olfactory bulb, which works as sort of a relay center, connects to a bony plate in the nose that is sensitive to injury. According to The Harvard Gazette, trauma to the head can cause anosmia by shearing off the plate, disrupting the neural pathways as a result.

What effects can anosmia have on your life?

While you may be able to function as you used to with anosmia, it can decrease your quality of life. There is a close connection between the sense of smell and memory. People with anosmia sometimes report trouble with remembrance or an inability to connect emotionally to their recollections. The sense of taste depends strongly on the ability to smell, so anosmia can diminish both senses.

The sense of smell also alerts you to potential danger, such as smoke from a fire or the smell of a gas leak. Anosmia could put you at risk for future accidents and further injuries.