Since my late teens/early 20s I’ve known that my sense of smell isn’t good. I can’t pinpoint when it happened, so I assumed it was gradual and, to be honest, I wasn’t that bothered about it.
I remember working at a building society and happily serving the smelly customers as everyone else fled to the back of the room. I remember being at candle parties and practically inhaling the testers but barely smelling anything. I remember Allan gagging when changing some particularly bad nappies and laughing because I could barely smell them.
I don’t recall ever missing particular scents, but maybe it’s because I haven’t smelled them for so long that I can’t remember what I’m missing.
But I also remember amusing our 4 month old baby as smoke started to fill our kitchen and only noticing when Allan told me to take her outside. I also remember when Allan couldn’t understand why I hadn’t noticed the smell of kerosene from our leaking oil tank. I remember a few occasions when my lack of smell could have resulted in something very serious and feeling terrible because it was no longer just me at risk, it was my young family.
I decided to get to the bottom of it and went to my GP. She checked me over, looking for obvious signs of a cause. When she found nothing she was happy to leave it there, but I wanted answers and she grudgingly suggested I could be referred to an ear, nose & throat specialist, which I happily agreed to.
A few months later I attended my appointment to see the specialist. I was given a book of scratch and sniff panels where I had to decide which of the multiple choice answers matched the scent. Very few were obvious, petrol being one of them, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that I had only around a third of them right.
The next bit wasn’t nice. A numbing spray went up my nose and down the back of my throat and it tasted awful! The doctor then inserted a camera in my nose, then further up, which felt like a magic trick because my nose didn’t seem that long when I went in!
With the tests over I finally had a name for my lack of sense of smell – hyposmia.
Hyposmia is the medical term for someone with a reduced ability to smell. It is often caused by a trauma or virus, but can also come out of nowhere and that seems to be where I land.
The specialist told me that there is one possible way to encourage my sense of smell to return, smell training. It involves sniffing four different scents which represent different types of smells (fruity, floral, spicy and resinous), twice daily for 12 weeks, to train my nose and brain to recognise these aromas.
I have placed my order, my oils are on their way, and I’ll let you know how I get on in around 12 weeks!