Your sense of smell serves more than one purpose. It not only allows you to enjoy a variety of aromas, but also warns you of potential dangers such as smoke or leaking gas.

Loss of smell can be partial (hyposmia) or complete (anosmia), and may be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause. Although loss of smell is rarely a symptom of a serious condition, even a partial loss of smell could cause you to lose interest in eating, which could possibly lead to weight loss, malnutrition or even depression.

The common cold with nasal congestion is the most common cause for a partial, temporary loss of smell. Obstruction in the nasal passages, particularly from polyps or nasal fractures, also is common. Normal aging also may cause a loss of smell, which may be progressive, becoming complete and permanent.

Loss of smell caused by colds, allergies or sinus infections usually clears up on its own after a few days. If this doesn't happen, consult your doctor so that he or she can rule out more-serious conditions.

Loss of smell can sometimes be treated, depending on the cause. Your doctor can give you an antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection, or remove obstructions that are blocking your nasal passage.

In other cases, loss of smell can be permanent. After age 60, in particular, you're at greater risk of losing your sense of smell.

Nov. 16, 2016