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Classification of olfactory impairment
There are such options violation of the smell, as:
- hyposmia (reduction of smell);
- anosmia (complete disappearance of smell).
Loss of sensitivity to odors is classified as congenital and acquired, as well as respiratory and essential anosmia. If the sense of smell is gone after a cold, it indicates the acquired nature of the violation.
The occurrence of respiratory (respiratory) anosmia is explained by the overlapping of the olfactory gap and its inaccessibility to the incoming stream of air. This happens for the following reasons:
- The curvature of the nasal septum.
- The presence of polyps, tumors in the nasal cavity.
- Hypertrophy or swelling of the lower turbinates.
Essential anosmia is due to the defeat of the olfactory receptors, the olfactory nerve. Viral respiratory infections (ARVI) are often mentioned as a likely cause. Especially high risk of loss of smell after a cold in case of influenza infection.
If the loss of sense of smell is due to edema, it is called functional and is considered reversible – the ability to smell is returned on its own after the resolution of the pathological process. The patient with acute rhinitis faces precisely this type of violation. Neoplasms and curvature of the nasal septum are indications for surgical treatment; cold can only worsen the symptoms that the patient could notice earlier.
The change in olfactory sensitivity is observed not only in acute, but also in chronic diseases associated with hypothermia. A classic example is sinusitis, an infectious-inflammatory process localized in the paranasal sinuses. There is edema of the olfactory zone, there is a transformation of the epithelium, which causes the defeat of the receptor apparatus. The pH of the secretion secreted by the glands of the mucous membrane of the olfactory region is also changing.
Smell Disorder and Cold
Persistent hyposmia, alternating with anosmia and occurring after a postponed respiratory infection, is a sign of olfactory neuritis. The development of pathology is explained by inflammatory and degenerative changes in the area of the first neuron of the olfactory nerve. Since the term “cold” can mean a viral or bacterial infection without specifying the variant of the pathogen, it is difficult to say how often colds cause olfactory function disorders. It is known that olfactory neuritis can be caused by influenza, as well as acute ethmoiditis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the ethmoid sinus), pansinusitis (involvement of all the paranasal sinuses in the pathological process).
In the course of olfactory neuritis there are several stages:
- Actually neuritis. This is the initial stage of the development of the disease, which is also called the stage of inflammatory changes. There are various options for violation of smell – a perversion of the perception of odors, the emergence of olfactory illusions. Clinically, this is manifested by the fact that the patient feels like unpleasant smells that most people around him find pleasant. Also, patients can smell when there are no sources of odorous substances nearby, it is difficult for them to recognize previously familiar smells.
- Decrease (extinction) of the function of the olfactory nerve. Patients are worried about the progressive loss of sensitivity to odors, the ability to identify any odors.
- Loss of function of the olfactory nerve. The patient does not perceive smells, can describe them as taste sensations (“sharp”, “caustic”) – essential anosmia develops.
Pathological changes are reversible only in the first two stages, after which the olfactory function cannot be restored.
Is it possible to return the sense of smell during a cold and how to do it? Tactics of treatment depends on the type of olfactory function disorder. If the change in the perception of odors is associated with acute rhinitis, the main process should be affected:
- rinse nose with saline;
- use saline solution in the form of nose drops;
- avoid sudden changes in temperature.
It is better to refuse the use of burning and irritating substances (onion juice, garlic). These grandmother’s methods are not only useless, but also dangerous to the mucous. It is also recommended to limit the use of decongestants (xylometazoline).
In acute and chronic sinusitis, antibacterial therapy (levofloxacin, amoxicillin) is indicated, in some cases, surgery, the administration of topical forms of glucocorticosteroids.
In order not to have to think about how to restore the sense of smell after a cold, it is necessary to begin the treatment of acute respiratory infections with the appearance of the first symptoms. For severe flu, etiotropic antiviral therapy is used (oseltamivir, relenza).
How to return the sense of smell after a cold, if olfactory neuritis has developed? Favorable prognosis for the restoration of olfactory sensitivity can be only in the case of initiation of therapy at the stage of inflammatory changes, relatively favorable at the stage of reducing the function of the olfactory nerve. Apply:
- topical glucocorticosteroids (hydrocortisone);
- vitamins (A, C, E, group B);
- biostimulants (aloe extract, tincture of Eleutherococcus).
In case of respiratory anosmia, mainly surgical treatment is used. Patients with impaired olfactory must be examined by an otolaryngologist, if necessary, also by a therapist, a neuropathologist.