Anosmia – no sense of smell! If you’ve landed here from a search engine, chances are you’re looking for cures, probably of the natural holistic variety. I’ve tried them all, the medical treatments too – all except the surgery for polyps, which even the ENT guy didn’t recommend – and I must admit to being too confused by now to help anyone, other than to say don’t lose heart.
Acupuncture worked very well for me, briefly, then wore off. Aural steroids also worked very well, again briefly, but for longer than the acupuncture. I persevered with Flucticasone Propitionate steroid nose spray, like the ENT guy told me to, but the anosmia set in once more and I’ve been entirely without my nose since New Year’s eve, when I noted it shutting off with progressive sips of a large celebratory Laphroaig.
But in the last few weeks it’s been returning,…
My other problem, related to anosmia, was a recurrent minor chest infection – I’d get wheezy, especially in the mornings after alcohol. So I’ve been spending some time addressing that side-issue, wondering if the anosmia would then address itself. To this end I’ve consulted an apothecary and been taking Vogel’s tinctures of Plantago and Echinachea for the past six months – also Sanatogen’s 50+ formula (because I’m 50+) with Ginko and Ginseng – like the Chinese TCM lady recommended. I’ve also cut down on red wine, refined sugar, and dairy produce. And I still use a few puffs of Flucticasone Propitionate morning and night as well, just to keep the ENT guy on side.
I’ve tried cutting alcohol out altogether, but that’s easier said than done. If I drink alcohol now, it’s white wine with an ABV of no more than 12%, and I try not to overindulge. I also take my coffee black and sweetened with honey, which was weird at first, but now I can drink it no other way. Certain anti-caffeine champions tell me I should cut out the coffee as well, and they’re probably right, but I simply can’t do it. A man must have at least some guilty pleasures, or life’s not worth living. I enjoy bush tea later in the evening as it’s caffeine free, and won’t keep me awake at night.
I briefly tried drops of tea tree oil up my nose, but they burned like hell. I also tried drops of witch hazel – a noted anti-inflammatory – and this didn’t burn as much but it still burned. Like it says on the bottle – recommended for external use only. Both of these things are handy to have around but not to put up your nose.
The ENT guy told me red wine causes rhinitis – a temporary swelling of the mucous membrane, so it might be responsible for temporarily dulling one’s sense of smell, but he was puzzled when I said it also caused copious amounts of yellow snot in the mornings as well(apologies if you’re eating). I think whiskey does the same, so I avoid that as well these days, except on rare special occasions – because the scent of a good single malt is for me the finest thing in the world.
I’ve also tried a Himalayan salt pipe, and as unlikely as that sounds, I think it helped to loosen the chest and ease my breath. Whether it be that or the combination of Plantago and Echinacea or something else altogether, I’ve not struggled with the wheezy chest or the yellow snot (apologies again) all summer – plenty of breath for hill walking anyway.
So,… it’s now late August, and I can smell things again.
Well, some things.
It’s a strange experience and, for now at least, somewhat incomplete, since my nose is curiously selective in what it responds to: coffee, certain cooking smells, car freshener smells, Lynx Africa antiperspirant, shoe polish – all are back in my life. However, petrol, mown grass, WD40, Fairy Liquid, bathroom smells, David Beckham body spray (sorry David), the dustbin, and indeed the entire cosmetics bit of Boots – all these things, and more, have yet to register, but I’m hopeful of further revelations as time goes on.
If you’re after a cure for anosmia, I wish I could help, or at least be more specific in how I’ve brought about this unexpected partial remission – if indeed I have and it’s not just a natural waxing and waning. My anosmia is caused by nasal polyps – a kind of harmless out-growth from the mucous membrane – harmless except for shutting off the sense of smell, and eventually blocking one’s nose, though no one seems to know what causes the nasal polyps.
My approach to the problem began in a fairly analytical manner, like diagnosing a niggly fault on the car, but has degenerated over the years into more of a scatter-gun defence. Something has had an effect, but I’ve no idea what – not that I’m complaining. It remains to be seen if this is just a welcome flash in the pan, or the beginnings of a permanent regaining of control over my olfactory senses. For now, I shall simply enjoy it, as I continue to be startled and delighted day by day with aromas long forgotten – even the bad ones.
So, for all you anosmics out there, don’t despair. Persevere. Draw on whatever information is to hand, both medical and holistic. I’d largely given up – well, any normal person would after all this time -but the sense of smell isn’t understood that well, indeed it lacks any sort of logical explanation, so we shouldn’t be afraid to try therapies for which there’s no logical explanation either – except, for putting tea tree or witch hazel up your nose.
Trust me, you’ll only do that once.