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    Can't smell anything
    sinus35 posted:
    For the past 3 years or so I have had complete loss of smell that started with a sinus infection (first ever and none since).

    I did allergy testing and despite the results showing that I have allergies to almost everything they tested me for on the scratch test, my only symptom is the loss of smell. I feel great most of the time with no complaints except for the occasional runny nose and sneezing from seasonal allergies. I have no known food allergies. Would it be a waste of time to get retested?

    For the last two years, my ENT tried everything he could think of to help open up the olfactory nerve area but nothing worked. I even had sinus surgery last year but after a few months, my smell was gone again. Prednisone works, but not recommended for long term use. At my last visit he told me I basically had two options: allergy shots or doing nothing. I won't do the allergy shots for several reasons, not the least of which is the time commitment. I also am having a hard time doing nothing. My ENT also mentioned sub-lingual immunotherapy, but it's not available in the US.

    I am looking into natural and/or holistic remedies and have recently started acupuncture, but have seen little to no positive results as of yet. Any suggestions?? What else can I do? I'm very frustrated!

    Jordan_Josephson_MD responded:
    Hi Sinus35

    Your anosmia (anosmia means that you can?t smell anymore) could be from damage to the olfactory nerve by the infection. But most commonly, and when it comes and goes, it is more likely from polyps that have grown over the nerve from an infection (even one) or mild chronic lingering infection or allergy. This is supported by the fact that your sense of smell comes back after prednisone and after surgery. You should also look at the food that you are eating the things that you are drinking because they can lead to reaction worsening nasal swelling leading to anosmia. Food sensitivity and food allergy which are different can cause problems leading to anosmia or hyposmia (decreased sense of smell).

    Nasal steroid sprays can be helpful along with irrigation with saline sprays. I think that it is worth a spin to do allergy shots and there are practitioners around that are starting to do sublingual therapy off label. Your just going to have to find one in your area and if not have them call docs in other areas that are providing this sort of treatment. This might be a good alternative. Sub-lingual therapy is working well in Europe. I think that allergy therapy (shots or sub-lingual) in conjunction with irrigation and nasal steroid sprays may be helpful.

    Furthermore, if you have allergies, your board certified ENT who is hopefully boarded by the American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery may want to prescribe oral antihistamines or topical antihistamine sprays. Some people are prescribing singulair for nasal polyps and allergic rhinitis as well. These are things that you should discuss with your doc. Let us know what he/she says and the results of your efforts. It sounds like two years is a long time and can be frustrating for you to be missing your sense of smell. If you read my book Sinus Relief Now (, it may get you to better understand the reasons for the return of your loss of smell and may help you to help your docs find the answer for you.

    Loss of sense of smell and taste can be terrible as enjoying food is very important. And furthermore, these two senses that are integrally related and are defense mechanisms to protect you from noxious odors, fire and foul foods that you might not know are rancid if your sense of smell and taste are gone. Both senses are the two of all of your senses that we take the most for granted until we lose them.

    Lastly, you might want to repeat the CT scan because the polyps may have grown back. Furthermore, you want to see that the surgery is doing well and residual/recurrent polyps or infection has not returned.

    Good Luck

    sinus35 responded:
    Thanks for your response.

    My current ENT has been board certified since 1990 and he is affiliated with one of the best hopsitals here in NYC. I have been very happy with him and the efforts he made for me. We really tried a lot of different treatment options, including my taking Nasonex and Singulair for my anosmia/allergies for the last two years. I never felt any difference before or after use of these medications, so if they were helping me, I don't really know. I can certainly talk to him about doing another CT scan, but I'm just at the point where I'm not sure if conventional medicine is working for me on this issue; it certainly doesn't seem to be.

    This week I decided to see a new allergist to get a second opinion re: my alleriges and some other treatment options. The new doctor suggested that, based on my original scratch test and the info I gave her about my symptoms and history, since one of the things I'm allergic to is mold, the loss of smell could be caused by a yeast infection. She told me to try cutting out bread, vinegar, cheese and beer/wine. NOT an easy thing for me to do, let me just say! However, after doing some research I do think that this might be a valid assessment of my situation and am going to try it. It's the first ray of hope I have seen since this problem started.

    I'm also frustrated that my original doctors (my present ENT iexcluded) automatically pushed me for the allergy shots without discussing other options and reviewing my scratch test with me. Perhaps I might not be here writing this post today if two years ago I was advised that a diet adjustment and body detox might have be an alternate solution for me.

    Thanks again, I'll keep you posted of any updates in my condition.
    Jordan_Josephson_MD responded:
    Dear Sinus35:

    Glad you are moving in what seems to be the right direction. My book Sinus Relief Now has the elimination diet in it that would be what you are looking for. I think you might find the methods in the book to be helpful. You might want to pick up a copy or read it in the public library or at Barnes and Nobles as I think that it will help you to sort through things. There are other books on the subject that may also give you good information.

    I don?t think that it was a bad thing that your past ENT?s recommended allergy shots because if you are allergic that is probably a proper thing to do. I think that reading and educating yourself will help you to prevent problems like those that you perceived due to lack of discussion. Your educating yourself prior to seeing them would have alerted you to the fact that you needed to have those discussions. I wrote my book to do that for my patients and others. I always say ?My best patient is an educated patient?.

    Keep us posted and good luck

    Best DrJ
    javry replied to Jordan_Josephson_MD's response:
    Dr. Josephson,
    I also have noticed lately that I can't smell anything and that my aability to taste is also fast aproaching zero. Just a few years ago, my sense of smell was so keen that my son could walk in the house and from across the room, I could smell the cigarette smoke on his breath. I could sit next to you and tell you what soap you used that morning to shower with. My wife once opened a can of Constant Comment tea in the kitchen and I picked on the smell from way back in the family room. But here lately, I can walk into a restaurant and couldn't tell you if it's chinese or italian because I can't smell anything. This has been going on for about 6 months now and I'm just not sure what's causing it. Any advise from you would be great.
    Andie_WebMD_Staff replied to javry's response:
    Hi Javry,

    Welcome to the Sleep Disorders Community. Unfortunately, we no longer have a Health Expert that responds to member questions on this board.

    However, we do have a very supportive community, and I'm sure if you posted your question as your own discussion that our members will be happy to offer their suggestions.

    You can do that by clicking the "Discussions" link when you hover over the orange "Post Now" button at the top of the page. You will get more response if you post this as a new question.

    Thanks and hope to see lots more of you here!

    Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself on any kind of thinking, including thinking about not thinking. ~Clifton Fadiman
    MM4040 replied to Jordan_Josephson_MD's response:
    Im 41 years old i cant smell for a very long time I can taste the food but cant smell I been like this since High school

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