I Can't Smell
Free Symptom Checker
with Physician-supervised AI

Reviewed By:

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC (Otolaryngology (ENT))

Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Northwell Health and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He holds a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) in Medical Education with a special focus on educational technology, educational research, and game-based learning from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Science in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University. He has a special interest in faculty development and has been a speaker or faculty at hundreds of local, national, and international courses and conferences. He is also an active blogger and podcaster for several organizations, including the Harvard Macy Institute (HMI), Harvard Medical School CME Online, and BackTable Innovations. He has been featured in the news and print for media outlets such as USA Today, Businesswire, The Washington Post, Nature Medicine, Fox News, and KevinMD. He was also the Vice President, Medical Director of a medical video game company, Level Ex from 2018 to 2023 that utilized game technology and psychology to create interactive experiences for healthcare professionals. | He is recognized as an expert on the implementation of educational technologies and gaming with a foundation in educational theory for health professions education. He was honored to be inducted as an Associate Member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Academy of Master Surgeon Educators and as an Associate Fellow of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE).

Rohini R, MD

Rohini R, MD (Otolaryngology (ENT))

Dr. Rohini R is an ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon, with a Fellowship in Advanced Endoscopic Sinus and Skull Base Surgery and a Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine and Lasers. Besides clinical practice and working with Ubie, she is actively training and mentoring medical students and residents. She has functioned in various work settings - teaching hospitals, private and free health centers, and worked with patients from all socioeconomic backgrounds due to her experience in free hospitals and volunteering in India and Singapore.

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Content updated on Apr 4, 2024

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How Ubie Can Help You

With an easy 3-min questionnaire , Ubie's AI-powered system will generate a free report on possible causes.

Questions are customized to your situation and symptoms, including the following personal information:

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  • Age - adjusts our guidance based on any age-related health factors.

  • History - considers past illnesses, surgeries, family history, and lifestyle choices.

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✔︎  When to see a doctor

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People with similar symptoms also use Ubie's symptom checker to find possible causes

  • I have abnormal sense of smell

  • Losing my sense of smell

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About the Symptom

Abnormal sense of smell (Dysosmia) can be a partial or complete loss of sense of smell (anosmia). It can be due to any number of things including infection, masses such as polyps, or direct toxic damage to the nerves of smell (olfactory nerves). This can also affect taste as a large portion of what is taste is due to the smell except the basic taste perceptions of bitter, sweet, salty, and sour.

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

Generally, I can't smell can be related to:

  • Parkinson's Disease

    A progressive nervous system disorder affecting movement. It occurs due to nerve cell damage in the brain. The exact cause for PD is unknown. Risk factors include genetics, male gender, old age, and exposure to certain toxins and environmental factors.

  • Allergic Rhinitis / Allergic Conjunctivitis (Including Spring Catarrh)

    A condition caused by allergens like pollen and dust mites, resulting in a runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes.

  • Dissociative Disorder

    Dissociative disorder is a mental disorder that involves 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, causing problems with functioning in everyday life.

  • Ear Infection
  • Influenza (Flu)
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Common Cold (Upper Respiratory Tract Infection)
  • Sinusitis

Related serious diseases

Sometimes, I can't smell may be related to these serious diseases:

  • Brain Tumor

    A brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the brain. They can be cancerous or non-cancerous. Cancerous brain tumors can start in the brain (primary tumor) or spread from another cancerous organ (secondary tumor). Primary brain tumors are caused by abnormal changes in the DNA of brain cells.

  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Rhinorrhea

Doctor's Diagnostic Questions

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom:

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

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Find Similar Symptoms

Symptoms from similar body parts

References

  • 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.

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11882-018-0796-4

  • 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.

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12035-018-1341-0

  • 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.

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0194599820943530

  • 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.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780444638557000241?via%3Dihub

Reviewed By:

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC (Otolaryngology (ENT))

Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Northwell Health and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He holds a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) in Medical Education with a special focus on educational technology, educational research, and game-based learning from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Science in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University. He has a special interest in faculty development and has been a speaker or faculty at hundreds of local, national, and international courses and conferences. He is also an active blogger and podcaster for several organizations, including the Harvard Macy Institute (HMI), Harvard Medical School CME Online, and BackTable Innovations. He has been featured in the news and print for media outlets such as USA Today, Businesswire, The Washington Post, Nature Medicine, Fox News, and KevinMD. He was also the Vice President, Medical Director of a medical video game company, Level Ex from 2018 to 2023 that utilized game technology and psychology to create interactive experiences for healthcare professionals. | He is recognized as an expert on the implementation of educational technologies and gaming with a foundation in educational theory for health professions education. He was honored to be inducted as an Associate Member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Academy of Master Surgeon Educators and as an Associate Fellow of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE).

Rohini R, MD

Rohini R, MD (Otolaryngology (ENT))

Dr. Rohini R is an ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon, with a Fellowship in Advanced Endoscopic Sinus and Skull Base Surgery and a Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine and Lasers. Besides clinical practice and working with Ubie, she is actively training and mentoring medical students and residents. She has functioned in various work settings - teaching hospitals, private and free health centers, and worked with patients from all socioeconomic backgrounds due to her experience in free hospitals and volunteering in India and Singapore.

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