Diagnosing Loss of Smell from Trauma is a complicated process.
Many times, people in motor vehicle accidents suffer head or brain injuries as a result. Ten percent of people suffering head or brain injuries will also develop a diminished or lost sense of smell.
Although there are many reasons someone may lose or have diminished smell, motor vehicle accidents and trauma are the most common causes in individuals under 65.
Only 2 Percent of people under 65 suffer from a diminished sense of smell. The loss becomes much more likely if over 65.
Loss of smell affects the taste of food, affects emotional memories from the past (since smell and emotional memories both derive from the limbic brain and can cause safety and occupational difficulties.
How is Loss of Smell Diagnosed?
It usually takes at least 2 experts to find out the cause of a loss of smell.
An ENT Doctor (Eye, Ears and Throat) will first do a physical examination. He or she will look inside the nose, as well as examine the inside of the mouth and the gums and teeth. He may do a CT scan to examine your sinuses or look for a tumor. He will also likely do a nasal endoscopy .
That procedure is done by putting a tube in the nose that has a magnifying glass and camera in it. With this in office procedure, the ENT doctor can see if there are polps, or scar tissue that might be impacting the sense of smell.
Additionally, a neurologist will see you and take a detailed history and a physical exam. He will ask about headaches, double vision, any numbness, check your balance and ask about any memory problems.
The neurologist will also do a detailed physical examination of the cranial nerves and will likely order an MRI of the brain and olfactory region.
He may also order blood tests including thyroid and B12 testing.
Additional Testing done to pinpoint the nature and extent of the problem will be detailed in Part 2 of this article
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