Monday, April 23, 2007

Update on being alcohol free

Well, I haven't had any liquor in my system at all for a month and while I was convinced that this would help me smell (even after my last experiment yielded no results), I still am anosmic.

I have however noticed a few things: For starters, even though I cannot smell anything, I do notice that I am much less congested in my sinuses.

Also, while I cannot taste. Or for those sticklers out there, while I cannot taste FLAVORS, my sense of taste of bitter, salty, sour, sweet etc is a little better. Olives for example do give off more of a tang than they did.

So even though I still suffer from anosmia, stopping drinking or even imbibing less, has had a benefit.

The only problem is that we are going on a wonderful motorcycle rally this weekend where there'll be about 75,000 other bikers. It's quite the party and anosmia or not, I'm going to enjoy some beers, some martinins and some cigars!

Upon return I think I'm going to give accupuncture a try.


kittypsf said...

My smell comes and goes and I am trying to make a correlation between using my nasal spray, being able to breathe just fine but having no sense of smell. I'm wondering what brought on your anosmia do you think?

Jahziah said...

I too suffer from hyposmia/anosmia. I can't recall a time in my life that I did not have it, and so I suspect that unlike you my condition may be congenital. Two things support this, firstly that I have no childhood memories of smells, and secondly, smell tests at the clinic.

I never gave it much thought until my family moved a couple of years ago. One of my favorite hobbies is computers, so I spent a lot of time in the computer room, right next to the kitchen.

On occasion my mother, who is a very hard working single mother, would have have to leave the kitchen while cooking to do something else, and forget say a pot on the stove or something in the oven. She would then come back in and find the whole house smelling like burnt rice/pasta/whatever, with me sitting in the room next playing games on the computer. The scoldings that followed were of epic proportions. I would just sit there dumbstruck thinking, "she can smell that?"

This happened two or three times and made my mother believe that I was the laziest guy on the planet, too lazy to even move a pot off the stove, but also got me alerted to the fact that there was something abnormal with my olfaction.

I didn't give it much thought but later mentioned it to my mother, who thankfully contacted the doctor who made me do some smell tests, which confirmed what I already knew.

I did two sets of tests, the first being with small bottles with flavors inside, such as mint, strawberry, grape etc. There were so many flavors, most just smelled the same to me. I was told to guess though(looking back, I realize the nurse who told me this was an idiot), so I did. I'm not sure if it was thanks to earlier memories of flavors, or that I am just lucky, but after 15 minutes of frantic sniffing with the bottles right under my nose I got perhaps 70% correct. I was prescribed Nasonex, which did nothing to help me. Because of this I sought help again.

This time specialists at the largest research hospital in my country(Sweden), got involved, and I had to take catscans and blood samples. I was then examined by a specialist. I was also given an alcohol-based smell test, which was very, very difficult. The flavors were in varying concentrations, and since my smelling is very erratic it sometimes to half a minute or so to perceive a certain flavor. I had to hold the bottles as close to my nose as possible, while the specialist himself said he could smell them several inches away from his head. The result was an uncertain score of 60%, uncertain in that I doubt the score reflects how difficult a time I actually had smelling, having to hold the bottles very close and sniffing repeatedly. Like I said my smelling is rather erratic, and easily gets "overloaded" when I have much sensory input. As such many odors will smell the same to me, if at all.

I was prescribed another nasal spray this time, which supposedly had shown benefits for people with my condition. It was somewhat experimental though, and expensive to boot. I was told to use it daily for a month, which I did, and was greatly disappointed. It had no effect beside clearing my nose, which easily gets dry and stuffy, like when you have a cold. Usually I have to blow my nose once or twice a day for it to stay clear. If I don't my smelling gets even worse.

As I mentioned I was greatly disappointed, since the specialist basically told me that they couldn't any apparent reasons for my condition. I believe this is because my condition is either caused by damaged olfactory nerves or missing/faulty olfactory receptors. In any case it seems permanent, and I realized I would just have to learn to live with it, and hope for a cure in the future.

Unlike you I did not suddenly lose my smelling, which must have been horrible for you. Because of this I am not entirely sure that what I perceive as taste and flavor is in fact that. My brain might just be compensating. I do know that many foods taste the same, or simply nothing, and therefore I do not enjoy them. I also know that I can perceive some or most "heavy" smells when very close, but that I cannot appreciate more subtle ones. I have never been able to smell my own body odor, which is a source of some trouble as I never know if other people will find my smell offensive. This would probably sound ridiculous to an ordinary person, but I am sure that you understand.

I too cannot enjoy cigars, or anything like them. In the air I can only pick up "heavy" scents, such as excrement, gases, rot, but not say, flowers or anything subtle like that. In fact I cannot smell most flowers, even when holding them against my nose. I know that others can, though.

One of your posts made me realize how much I am probably missing out on. To me words like taste and scent are abstract. Like you I can identify sweetness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness. You mention that to you pizza and oatmeal have the same taste, which is how it is for me. I did not realize there could be anything else until I read what you wrote. It is inconceivable to me, as I have never experienced anything else. In that way I understand that it must be extremely difficult for you, like being able to see the world in all its grandeur, and then going completely blind. Though I cannot begin to understand what you are going through I can sympathize with the feeling that food and smell is dull, like something is missing.

I'm not even entirely convinced that my condition is congenital, as I'm only 18 and may have been well as a child, just that I cannot remember it. I did in fact have polyps removed, which may or may not have damaged my olfactory.

In closing I would just like to thank you for opening my eyes to something I had not realized before, and wish you the best of luck with regaining your sense of smell.

lenoble said...

I found a link to this site in Wikipedia. It's amazing to me how little there is on the internet about our problem.

I lost most of my smell/taste two years ago, after a viral illness. It was probably the virus, although I sometimes think it may have been the result of using Flonase.

One of the hardest parts of this for me has been the way no one really cares but me! Even my doctor seems uninterested. Her only response was to give me another prescription for Flonase. It didn't improve my ability to smell/taste, although it did stop me from constantly smelling phantom bad smells, mostly like burning meat.

What do I miss the most? The smell of coffee. The smell of lavendar. The smell of people I care about. Never being able to form any new smell memories.

Also, the joy of eating. Only a couple of foods still taste the same, or at least similar, to me: spaghetti with tomato sauce and watermelon. I don't enjoy fruits and vegetables as much now, and tend to use too much salt. I love hot, crispy, salty foods, like fish and chips. So healthy!

I tried acupuncture with no results. Occasionally I get a fleeting whiff of a smell, which lasts a second or so, and I love that. It's like a blind person getting the occasional flash of sight.

I'd give a lot to get even 50% of my smell/taste back. Sometimes I get quite angry/depressed about this, and particularly the fact that there are so few people who understand how sad it can be to lose the greater part of two of your senses. Please keep up the blog.

Dave said...

I am new to this condition of NO SMELL or TASTE. I used Zicam one time and wham, no smell or taste. Since I am so new, I am also very frustrated and my mind is running in hyperspeed. I am looking for any and all help to cure this but am finding out that Zicam may have burned ou the olfactory completly. At justr under 60 years old I can not imagine never to taste food or single malt sctotch again. I am worrried that I would not even smell a fire or smoke until it burned me up. Not good.

Anonymous said...

I know the feeling. Moved to FL a few years ago, lost all sense of smell and taste. To make a long story alot shorter, I suffered from allergies primarly. Grass was my worst enemy. Started allergy shots, about a year later, I started getting my sense of smell and taste back. After many drug treatments, I found these worked the best. Singular 10 mg daily, I also use Clarinex one day, and zyertec the other. MAKE SURE you get Astelin as primary nasal spray. Use it up to 4 times a day. Irrigate with some nasal irrigation medications from walgreeens/ cvs. During allergy season, also use other nasal sprays like Nasacort. As I am starting my 2nd year of allergy shots, I have started to cut down on medication, mostly singular, I use it every other day. Main treatment now is clarinex/zyertec, and Astelin. Along with nasal irrigation daily. Allgery shots are the main treatment. When you start them, dont stop! trust me, they work...

Anonymous said...

Anosmia is an interesting topic, and within the medical literature it has been largely glossed over. Taste is almost universally effected as a large proportion of taste is actually from the olfactory receptors stimulated by inhaled particles. The "bouquet of the wine". The list of potential causes are large. Commonly in hospital practice we see polyps causing anosmia, although patients are usually complaining of nasal blockage. Viral infection (common colds)can lead to permanent receptor damage. To be honest a fair proportion are called idiopathic (ie not cause found).

The standard treatment varies, I usually prescribe flixonase drops which can improve the lining and shrink polyps back, although a pristine nose will rarely improve. If there has been foul or phantom smell then a scan may be beneficial to rule out rare causes.

Interesting I found this blog when surfing about a patient I saw in clinic who describes anosmia after drinking alcohol. Again little about this in the literature. Although I don`t want to put a depression on you, their is little evidence that longterm anosmia in a pristine nasal cavity will rectify itself with or without treatment.
A practising ENT surgeon UK