Losing the sense of smell touches many parts of life. Without a good sense of smell, food might taste bland. It can be hard to tell one food from another.

Losing some of the sense of smell is called hyposmia. Losing all sense of smell is called anosmia. The loss might be brief or long term, depending on the cause.

Losing even some sense of smell can cause a loss of interest in eating. Not eating might lead to weight loss, poor nutrition or even depression.

The sense of smell can warn people of dangers, such as smoke or spoiled food.

A stuffy nose from a cold is a common cause for a partial, brief loss of smell. A polyp or swelling inside the nose can lead to a loss of smell. Aging can cause a loss of smell, especially after age 60.

Loss of smell caused by colds, allergies or sinus infections usually clears up on its own in a few days or weeks. If this doesn't happen, make a medical appointment to rule out more-serious conditions.

Loss of smell can sometimes be treated, depending on the cause. For instance, an antibiotic can treat a bacterial infection. Also, it might be possible to remove something blocking the inside of the nose. But sometimes, loss of smell can be lifelong.

Dec. 01, 2023