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The relationship between the olfactory system and the brain is powerful because of the way the nose is linked with gray matter. Scientists have shown that the sensation of smell is more powerful in retrieving memories than other types of stimuli, including sight and sound.
When you get a smell stuck in your nose, the powerful link between the olfactory system and brain makes this condition more frustrating than you’d expect.
If you find that you have a smell stuck in your nose, it’s extremely unlikely that the culprit will be found lodged in the nasal canal. The majority of these cases don’t involve particles that are stuck in your receptors. Instead, a smell stuck in your nose is more likely to be an issue with the way that your olfactory system and brain interact.
For example, if you come across a horrendous smell that makes you reel or feel ill, you might end up recreating that smell through your memory. Psychologist Avery Gilbert performed studies on smell conjuring, finding that people are able to recreate odors in their minds, even as they dream.
However, if it’s not the case that you’re conjuring a smell out of memory, making it appear as if it’s stuck in your nose, there’s a good chance that you might be dealing with a smell disorder.
Smell disorders can have a serious affect on your life, making it difficult to detect important odors, such as the smell of food, which helps to form your dietary habits. Another consequence of smell disorders includes the inability to smell danger, such as a gas leak or smoke from a fire.
One type of disorder is called parosmia, which causes a change in the way you perceive smell. Things that once had a pleasant odor may smell foul, or vice versa. This may give you the impression that you have a bad smell stuck in your nose.
For the most part, people who have a smell stuck in their nose are more likely to be dealing with phantosmia, which involves smelling odors that are not present, instead they’re entirely created by your nose and brain. In this case, your physiology is causing you to “make smells up”, which could come across as having a smell stuck in your nose if this odor is repeatedly conjured out of thin air.
In addition to neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, other injuries and illnesses that cause smell disorders include dental problems, head and neck cancers, hormone alterations and nasal cavity growths. Also, if you smoke, were exposed to harsh chemicals like solvents or bug spray, or take certain types of medications, you may end up dealing with smell disorders that make it seem like a particular smell won’t go away.
To discover the cause of the problem, the best course of action is to visit an ear, nose, throat and neck doctor with the ability to perform a complete diagnostic of your head. After doing a physical exam to check the condition of your head, facial and throat areas, smell tests can be administered to discover more about the exact issue that you’re dealing with.
After diagnosing the smell issue, your doctor should be able to recommend a course of action, whether it involves a lifestyle alteration, medication or even surgery.
When you find an ENT who has experience finding and treating smell disorders, you’ll be able to deal with the problem more efficiently compared to visiting your family doctor.
Houston Sinus & Allergy specializes in treating nasal and sinus conditions and providing allergy care. Our practice is committed to helping you find long term relief from your symptoms. Dr. Nguyen is a Board Certified ENT – Head and Neck Surgeon with extensive training & experience in diseases of the ears, nose & throat.
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