Head Injury and Smell Loss

Head injury is a significant public health concern. Trauma to the face and brain can result in alterations in the ability to both smell and taste. In the case of smell, these include total loss of function (anosmia), decreased sensitivity (hyposmia), alterations in odor quality (dysosmia), and olfactory hallucination (phantosmia). Although taste dysfunction, i.e., altered perception of such basic taste-bud sensations such as sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory, can be similarly influenced by head trauma, the effects are typically more subtle and less studied. Deficits in smell can be conductive or neurosensory, depending on the location of the injury. Olfactory loss is often discounted as an annoyance, rather than a major health concern by both patients and many healthcare providers. Patients with olfactory impairment have diminished quality of life, decreased satisfaction with life, and increased risk for personal injury. Verification of the presence of olfactory deficit and assessment of its severity requires objective olfactory testing