Loss of smell ...

vieja_gwJuly 31, 2006

In Dec. I fell and hit the back of my head .. a concussion. My once very acute sense of smell is gone and I so miss the smell of perfume, flowers,fresh air, etc. plus it is dangerous too as I no longer can smell smoke, gas from the stove, etc. and just briefly a hint of ammonia or vinegar when I try them. The neurologist said he doubts I will ever recover this sense even though I have tried zinc and Vit.B as it is not a malfunction of my nose but the back part of the brain I'm told so these things probably won't help.

Has anyone else experienced this problem and has anything helped?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi vieja,

I don't have any suggestions for you, but did want to commissurate with you. About 17 years ago, I had a virus for several days with a high fever. When it was over, I had lost most of the sense of taste and smell. A little of it has come back, but not much.
For a long time, I smelled smoke or something electrical quite often.....even when there was no smoke around. It is a bit disconcerting to not be able to smell those things around you (when they're there). I was relieved when my children got old enough to tell me if they smelled smoke too.
Fortunately, I think I smell smoke more when it's not there, than when it is and I can't smell it.
Hopefully, you will regain some of it.
Back when I lost mine, I heard of a smell/taste discorder clinic in Chicago, but I never pursued it. Maybe you could look into something like that. You could always get a second and third opinion. I would research the heck out of the topic....which you probably have already done. Many times there are solutions out there, but doctors just aren't up on them.
Are you sure it was the fall that caused it and not a virus? I guess there are viruses that just attack those parts of us (smell and taste). I understand your sadness at what you've lost. I soooooo miss walking past people, and getting a whiff of their perfume, and having wonderful flashbacks from my childhood! And I miss smelling freshly cut grass. And there are many flowers I can't smell anymore.
Good luck finding a solution to this. Perhaps time will help. If it doesn't, you will adjust. But I do sympathize and empathize with you!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 8:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Yes, you can understand my problem exactly !! Oh, the smell of freshly mown hay, rain,fresh smell of clothes drying on the clothesline, perfume of my peony flowers ....! Yes, the loss of smell occurred right after the fall;the MRI I guess showed a portion of the brain in back that sends scent messages over the top of the brain to the nose was bruised/damaged when I hit the back of my head and the neurologist doubted any scent would return though he said, like you,sometimes strange, non-exisitant scents will arise later that may be worse than no scent at all! Years ago I did had a loss of smell after a viral infection but that returned fully in time and with mega zinc and Vit. B which can bring back the sense if it is just the nerves in the nose that were affected but seemingly not when it is the part of the brain I damaged but I am still taking both in hopes ...! I always had such an acute sense of smell before and it surely does affect one's outlook in so many wonderful ways.

I, too, got info. from a clinic in the Midwest that almost guarantees success in restoring sense of smell but when theneurologists doubt it I am reluctant to spend so much $$ and travel so far on just advertisement.

If yours was a loss after a viral infection (though it was years ago and that might be a problem) you might try zinc and Vit.B: I'm still taking both just hoping ...

Thanks you for your response .... hopefully we both can regain this powerful sense we formerly took too much for granted! It is so important : smell with memories!


    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 12:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To whom it may concern;
i also lost my sense of smell and taste. for two years i tried to find something or someone to help improve my senses. i came apon Esodynamics (corrective Health Care), they have helped me regain about 75% of my senses through about 6 or 7 sessions now. google it for more info, i hope i have been of some help. please let me know, thanks; Jessie

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 2:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I posted the original question re: loss of sense of smell after a brain concussion/fall to the back of the head. After about one year now I have a very slight sense of smell returning .... I get a whiff of something but it doesn't last long. This little bit of recovery makes me hopeful that more will come back in time. I still take zinc & Vit. B injections. Was your loss of smell due to a head injury? Wonderful your smell is returning!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 10:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


thanks for writing back,

Yes my loss was also from falling straight back and cracking the back of my head. i was hospitalized for a week, being told my brain was bleeding. not a good time in my life. i have recover now, everything seems to be fine, the headaches stop after about 3 months. i know what you mean when you say you smell something but then it goes away and you really can't tell what it was to begin with. i found that it didn't much improve from there. Where i said to go in my first note really does work. i was a little sceptic at first but i recommend you try it at least three times. you will be amazed Vieja. this loss of smell due to head injury is alot more common than i thought and from what i here nobody has recovered like i have. it is so beautiful to smell a womans perfume again and taste a home cooked meal. i have another appointment next week in Sudbury Ontario, can't wait, improves every time.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2006 at 11:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Wonderful that after such a bad fall you have recovered so much! No, for some odd reason (the neurologust said) I didn't lose the sense of flavor ... which is a combination of taste & smell. The faint smells I have recovered are the true smells but just faint & doesn't last when I smell the vinegar bottle or the ammonia bottle or when I spray perfume. At least it is something & hope it will improve. I will investigate the website you mentioned but is the place in Ontario, Canada? We surely can understand the previous responder 'caterinet' & her missing all those wonderful aromas, can't we?!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2006 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, I got into a car accident about 2 yrs ago. I was thrown from the car and had a very bad concussion. I wasn't able to taste or smell at all after I got out of the hospital. I still can't tell a banana from a strawberry and I smell weird smells like smoke or something burning. Is there hope that I will ever get my senses back? Anything I can do, to try and get them back? I heard mentioned that zinc and vitamin B help with that. What do they do? Is there anything else that can help? I have a 5 month old baby and I love the way babys smell, but ever since he was born I haven't been able to experience that and it makes me very sad. I am home by myself with him and can't tell if there is a fire or gas is leaking and that scares me. Someone please help me out if you can. Thank you so much. :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 3:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I too have what is called anosmia. I don't ever remember
having a sense of smell. When my son was a baby the only
way I knew he did his business was by the time of day and
the look on his face. Because I work in a nursing home my
coworkers think I'm lucky not smelling certain things but
I wish I could. I have missed out on the good smelling
for years. Perhaps I had a bad cold as a child...I really
don't know. Thank goodness I have an alright sense of
taste. My GP states nothing can be done so I'll check in
here from time to time. Lastly, I have come to realize that
when you lack in one sense you can make it up in another.
I feel my 6th sense is heightened because of this.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 5:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I fell 2 months ago and Loss the sence of smell..
What dose of zinc and vitamin B do I take?
I will try anything to get my sence of smell back...
I miss the smell of Fresh air, Rain, The woods, Roses
or easting a good Steak dinner with my family...Please!!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 10:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Though I rather feel that maybe the zinc & the Vit. B MAY have helped the slight return of my sense of smell I'd for sure check with your doctor regarding taking these & the amounts. My neurologist had said these two were the only suggestions he could think of to advise me to try. I do now & did before the fall take quite a few other alternative things (lutein, ginkgo biloba, etc.) but have no idea if any of those had helped.

Have others here tried that clinic one of the previous people on this e-mail mentioned that helped? Think it was in Ohio or Canada??

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 12:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just went back to my neurologist because of another fall & hit to the back of my head (:( !! ). He was amazed that I had a sense of smell return x the first fall n 2006 but as I never lost the sense of taste he said the nerve then was probably just bruised & not torn- as if it had been torn, the sense of smell would have not returned & I would have been left with only the four things the tongue alone would taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter. I'm now hoping further smells return in time. He said his suggestion of zinc & Vit. B may have helped also but couldn't really be sure.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 10:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I too developed anosmia and loss of flavor following a fall and concussion to the back of my head. A neurologist told me it was permanent due to injury to the olfactory nerve. Thankfully he was wrong, and I regained my smell after about 1-2 years. Doctors should refrain from absolute statements-they're smart but not omnicient! My smell recovered gradually--I remember the first thing I could smell was gasoline. I went to a taste and smell clinic at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. It was primarily a research program, but they did prescribe a medication called Theophylline (an asthma medication) which I took until I recovered my sense of smell. This was an experimental, off-label use of this medication. I have no idea if it was effective, or if I would have recovered anyway. Check with your doctor. This was 30 years ago, and I don't know if the clinic still exists. Google "taste and smell clinic" for more info.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 2:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wonderful you got your sense of smell back after you had lost BOTH the sense of smell and taste! It has been two years now for me since my fall/concussion & it seems it still is coming back even more but not as acute as before the accident---yet!, but I still have hopes & am so grateful for what I have regained so far. Could you only taste the four that the tongue alone senses (sweet-sour-bitter-salty) or could you even determine most other tastes/flavors after the fall? I am amazed at how many persons have experienced our same problem after a fall & how we don't realize until we lost it how important the sense of smell is to us both as far as danger & for pleasure. Interesting about the Theophylline! Like me, I don't really know if my taking Vit.B & zinc really helped or not.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 8:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think there is a misunderstanding about the difference between "taste" and "smell". Sense of "tastes" (sweet, salty, bitter, sour) are percieved by organs on the tongue (so-called "taste buds"). You don't need smell to percieve "taste". The ability to appreciate "flavor" is dependent on a sense of smell. So in my case, I lost flavor as a result of loss of smell. I never lost "taste" sensation. For example, I could taste sour, but couldn't discriminate whether it was lemon or lime (see link below). I thought I had it bad until I met people at the clinic who complained that everything had a terrible taste or smell. What a nightmare that would be! Most of the research I did indicated that it takes at least a year before you begin to regain the sense of smell (when due to head injury). It can take much longer to fully recover sense of smell. The fact that you have regained even partial smell (and therefore partial "flavor") seems very encouraging to me. If you had gone 2 years without any improvement, then the outlook would be more grim. By the way, are your falls pure accidents, or do you have a balance/equilibrium problem? Perhaps you should discuss that with your neurologist. Good luck and be patient!

Here is a link that might be useful: Exploratorium.edu

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 1:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

russar: Hmm, I thought the difference was pretty much understood- maybe in different terms? I never lost the sense of 'taste' (tongue: salty,bitter, etc.) nor the sense of much 'flavor' (could distinguish between foods: lemon, coffee, cokes, chocolate, etc. in my mouth .. all 'tasted' the same). But I just could not 'smell' ammonia, vinegar,chocolate, cinnamon when blindfolded & placed to my nose by the neurologist. Thus, it later seemed when the sense of 'smell' returned 2 years later that the nerve had probably not been severed from the fall but just bruised & I thankfully have most of the sense of smell (not as acute though ..yet!)back. When it first started coming back I smelled the slight smell of smoke ... though none was there;guess that happens sometimes. Now the smells are real thankfully!

Thanks everyone for all the info. in-put to a situation I had no idea was rather common. Every bit is of help for those of us that have experienced it & hope the info. continues!

No reason (yet) for the falls I've had & MRI's don't indicate any reason for them or show any results from the two falls.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 11:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I may have missed it, but did anyone mention the amount of zinc & Vit. B that should be taken?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 1:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry, I don't remember the doses of zinc I took each day but I got the Vit. B by injection (hubby gave them to me).

Now almost 6 yrs. after the fall, I still can smell things as it gradually returned but certainly not as acute as before the fall. But I am so grateful that it has returned a bit but have had no further improvement for the past couple of yrs. I do remember though what that earlier acute sense of smell was like... & miss it! Now I have arthritis in the back of my skull... probably a result of the fall.

So good we still are keeping n touch with some new ideas!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 11:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had a virus this spring and I too have lost my sense of smell and taste. Sometimes I think I can smell something but it goes away quickly. My doctor does not have much hope of it coming back. I guess it could be worse.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 10:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I never lost the sense of taste ... only that of smells. Though I feel so fortunate that I did get back some sense of smell it is fleeting & not as acute as it was before the concussion. I remeember the smell of the air after a thunderstorm, the rain,the peony & lilac flowers & realize it is just a fraction of what it was. Don't appreciate what you had until you lose it I guess. I hope yours 'joyingspring' will also return. When it first returned I smelled things that were not there.. like smoke, coffee.. but it was a start at least as before I couldn't smell vinegar or ammonia.

Good luck & kep us posted!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 6:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

On August 23, '11 I suffered a mild concussion (fell onto my back and struck the back of my head). Four days later I was recovering quite nicely, but realized I had lost my sense of smell. Nearly seven weeks later (October 9) I began to "get" whiffs of familiar odors. Tuna, barbecue, Shalimar, and the most frequent visitor has been rotten tomatoes (I have a garden and have been picking the dregs of the garden--sometimes there's a rotten one in there). It's a little disappointing that these whiffs are so few, fleeting and very far between. At about the same time, I began to experience the "ghost" scent which I've labeled "fried powdered stone." That smell-taste was fairly persistent and unpleasant for awhile. Now it's not always present, and often smells-tastes not too bad. (Strange, too, that when I take a deep inhalation over the coffee bag, the ghost smell appears, as if that's what it smells like.) I liken this odor to the smell of smoke and/or coffee that some of you have described.

I have very much appreciated the posts you-all have left here. The similarities to my experience are comforting, and in many ways hopeful. (Having any kind of change in my condition, i.e. the appearance of the whiffs and the ghost scent, gives me hope that something is happening, hopefully some healing, and not deterioration of the olfactory bulb.)

It is a strange sort of handicap, isn't it? I do thank God that the results of the concussion were not much much worse. I never even lost consciousness! And here I am walking and talking--no one would guess that I've lost one of my five senses. It has a huge impact on my quality of life, but nowhere near as huge as it would have been to lose sight, hearing, mental function or mobility. So I get to feel sorry for myself, but I have to temper that with gratitude. Sympathy from others is another story, and varies as widely as there are personalities and life experiences. I have refrained from telling most people, except family and close friends. I'm not sure why. Don't want to play the victim? Or, saving it for an eventful Christmas letter?

Still, thanks to you all for your stories. It is "nice" to know I'm not alone in dealing with this. Who could've imagined what turns our lives can take in an instant?

God bless us all, and help to restore to us this gift which first came from Him. Or, give us the grace and strength to deal with the loss, taking whatever lessons come along the way.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 3:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It has now been 5 months since I have lost of taste and smell. Lately I have developed this awful taste in my mouth when I eat something, not sure how to describe it but it is "foul". Maybe it is a sign of some senses returning. I am waiting for a CT scan on my sinuses to see if there is any damage. Just a waiting game.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 11:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I first posted this way back in 2006 I had no idea how many people have suffered this same loss of smell! It seems most were a result of falling & hitting the back of the head as I had done. I guess a sensory nerve runs in that area to the sensory part of the brain & can be damaged or even severed.

I fell on two separate occasions & hit that back portion of the skull with concussions. I now have regained 'most' of the extremely acute sense of smell I once had & am so grateful! I still miss the smell of the freshness after a rain & some more subtle things that I could before but am thankful for what has come back. I can smell & use my favorite perfumes but wonder if what I think now is just a subtle use may really be too much for others around me with normal senses! I no longer take the zinc or Vit. B shots & am not sure if they helped or not but the neurologist said it was worth it to try & no harm from doing it. Oddly, I never lost the sense of taste : I could not smell ammonia, vinegar, chocolate, etc. but could discern salty, sweet, bitter, etc. & foods seemed to taste the same as always & I could tell one food from another by the taste... but not the smell! Guess 'flavor' is the combination of taste & smell? Difficult meanings as the terms seem to get confused.

What I have now as a result I'm told of the fall is arthritis in my upper neck & dull aches/pressure in the area of the skull where I hit; MRI's don't explain it.

I hope this posting will continue with others who have experienced the same trauma & loss of smell & can give hope & info. to the seemingly many with this similar experience!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 1:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Which B Vitamin were you taking and what dosage, also how much zinc did you take???

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 3:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It has been a long time but I believe it was the Vit. B12 liquid prescription x my Dr. that I injected for several months. The zinc was the OTC 50 mg tabs. & I think I took 2 tabs. twice a day... but I'm not really sure now. Your Dr. would know what was an OK amount and not toxic dose to try I'm sure. My daughter-in-law believes in & uses many herbs, acupuncture, 'tapping', hypnotherapy, etc. as her degree is in behavioral therapy but my work background was western medicine... so I think that influences how these things work on different people also!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 3:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

enjoyingspring: did you fall & hit the back of your skull & concussions as I did? No, I didn't have any strange or unpleasant tastes that I can recall. I have had many MRI's of my head as well as EEG, muscle tone (poor) & developed non-diabetic neuropathy of both legs/calfs but not a CAT scan of the head. No conclusive results! Hopefully, the odd tastes when you eat something is a good sign that perhaps the nerves are healing & normal taste & smell will return! Keep us all posted, please!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 6:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No I didn't hit my head. I had a bad virus and my loss of smell and taste resulted from that. I will start taking the zinc and ask my doctor about the Vit B12 shots. Every once in a while I can smell cleaning fluids but it doesn't last. I can taste sweat and sour but no flavors.

The doctor is having me use Nasonex right now but I haven't seen any difference maybe he is just humouring me until I have the CT scan. I find I have to force myself to eat I have lost 12lbs since this has happened. One thing I really miss is the taste of is my morning coffee.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 9:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

enjoyingspring: did you notice the much earlier posting on this above (by 'russhar' Sept. 28, 2008) on my original post here about someone taking theophyline? Sense of smell returned but ? if due to the theophyline or not. Interesting! I'd say 5 months with some kind of smell/taste now returning mught be encouraging... something seems to be going on?!

I now wonder if the non-diabetic neuropathy in both my legs below the knee is a result of the fall/concussion also... neurologist doesn't think so ... or maybe it caused the fall ... but I hadn't noticed it prior to the fall. Guess we all have lots of questions!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 6:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, I did notice that post about the theophyline. It is really hard to tell what might work, I am now taking the zinc tablets. Tonight now I was eating brussel sprouts and got that foul taste again, I couldn't eat them. Last week I could eat brussel sprouts without that taste, I just wonder what is causing that.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 6:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Now almost 6 years after the fall/concussion to the back of my skull & complete loss of smell, I seem to have come to what may be the best recovery I can achieve. I can smell things now (not as acutely as before)& for some odd reason it doesn't last as long. Guess with time we thankfully forget what it was like before & don't miss the loss we are left with SO much! I am so lucky I guess that some sense of smell has returned. I have had numerous MRI's & CAT scans w & w/o contrasts & conflicting reports depending on what radiologist reads the scans done at the same radiology lab! My doctor says most modern machines are all good but it is the radiologist who reads them that is important! I hope some of you who earlier here had similar experiences with loss of smell have had some improvement & will keep the rest of us in touch!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 7:18PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
band aids
My dermatologist introduced me to Coverlet bandages....
Chronic Chapped Lips
I have NEVER had lips that weren't chapped ever since...
air purifier, blueair 650E/IQ healthpro plus/whirlpool AP51030K
I am considering buying one or two more air purifiers...
Unintentional weight loss
Please forgive me if I ramble but something has me...
Gluten-free diet may do more harm than good
I'm not sure about you but I've been hearing from friends,...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™