I Can't Smell

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Reviewed By:

Rohini R

Rohini R, MD (Ear, nose, throat (ENT))

Shohei Harase

Shohei Harase, MD (Neurology)

From our team of 50+ doctors

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  • Disorder of sense of smell

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Content updated on Sep 6, 2022

About the symptom

Abnormal sense of smell can be a partial or complete loss of sense of smell.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Numbness / sensory disorder

  • Visual field defect

  • Change in personality

  • Head injury

  • Fine tremor of the fingers

  • Fever

  • Altered mental status (delirium)

  • Involuntary movements

  • Impossible to walk normally

  • Muscle weakness in the limbs

  • Blurring of vision

  • Headache

Possible causes

  • Sinusitis

    Infection of the sinuses, which are cavities around the nose. The infection can be acute (lasting about a week) or chronic (lasting for more than three months). It can be caused by viruses or bacteria.

  • Dissociative disorder

    Dissociative disorder is mental disorder that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. People with dissociative disorder escape reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.

  • Acute tonsillitis / pharyngitis

    Infection of the tonsils and pharynx (back of the mouth), either by viruses or bacteria.

  • Pregnancy
  • Subcortical hemorrhage
  • Parkinson disease (PD)
  • Refsum syndrome

  • Wolfram syndrome

Related serious diseases

  • Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea

    Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhea is a condition where the fluid that surrounds the brain (cerebrospinal fluid) leaks into the nose and sinuses. Most common causes include trauma, surgery, birth defects and increased pressure inside the skull and brain tissue.

Questions your doctor may ask about this symptom

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom

  • Do you have any change in your sense of smell?

  • Do you have a fever?

  • Do you have a sore throat?

  • Do you have a cough?

  • Do you have phlegm?

Other Related Symptoms

Symptoms from the same body system / part


  • Marin C, Vilas D, Langdon C, Alobid I, López-Chacón M, Haehner A, Hummel T, Mullol J. Olfactory Dysfunction in Neurodegenerative Diseases. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2018 Jun 15;18(8):42. doi: 10.1007/s11882-018-0796-4. PMID: 29904888.


  • Shin T, Kim J, Ahn M, Moon C. Olfactory Dysfunction in CNS Neuroimmunological Disorders: a Review. Mol Neurobiol. 2019 May;56(5):3714-3721. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1341-0. Epub 2018 Sep 6. PMID: 30191380.


  • D'Ascanio L, Pandolfini M, Cingolani C, Latini G, Gradoni P, Capalbo M, Frausini G, Maranzano M, Brenner MJ, Di Stadio A. Olfactory Dysfunction in COVID-19 Patients: Prevalence and Prognosis for Recovering Sense of Smell. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2021 Jan;164(1):82-86. doi: 10.1177/0194599820943530. Epub 2020 Jul 14. PMID: 32662745.


  • Prediger RD, Schamne MG, Sampaio TB, Moreira ELG, Rial D. Animal models of olfactory dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases. Handb Clin Neurol. 2019;164:431-452. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63855-7.00024-1. PMID: 31604561.


Reviewed By:

Rohini R

Rohini R, MD (Ear, nose, throat (ENT))

Shohei Harase

Shohei Harase, MD (Neurology)

From our team of 50+ doctors

Just 3 minutes.
Developed by doctors.

Ubie is supervised by 50+ medical experts worldwide

Shohei Harase

Shohei Harase, MD


Kameda Medical Center, Japan

Sanshiro Kato

Sanshiro Kato, MD

Emergency department

Kawai Clinic, Japan

Yu Shirai

Yu Shirai, MD


Yotsuya Yui Clinic, Japan

Yoshinori Abe

Yoshinori Abe, MD

Internal medicine

Co-founder of Ubie, Inc.

Rohini R

Rohini R, MD

Ear, nose, throat (ENT)

Bayshore Health Centre, India

Seiji Kanazawa

Seiji Kanazawa, MD, PHD

Obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN)

National Center for Child Health and Development, Japan

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