There’s a Word for It

June 1, 2008 at 12:19 am | Posted in Medical, Personal | 5 Comments

A post on Facebook by galaxychild let me to find that there are other people in the world that have had similar experiences as me when it comes to Anosmia, the lack of olfaction, or an absence of the ability to smell. It can be either temporary or permanent.

Now I suppose that the term anosmia doesn’t actually apply to me. I used to have a reduced sense of smell. It turns out that there’s also a word for that – hyposmia. It seems that the condition has passed for me.

But anyways, GC’s post led me to find a forum where people wrote about common reactions that I have also been on the receiving end of. For example:

– when you say you can’t smell anything, what does that mean?
– so you can’t smell [thing]; how about [other thing], how about [third thing], ad infinitum ….
– how do you breathe

and the classic

– how do you taste? (with my tongue, thank you)

And unfortunately, a fair amount of disbelief and even anger.

I’m sorry I can’t smell your perfume; please forgive me.



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  1. yay! i only found out what the term was when i added to my f-list. 😀

    i haven’t been to a doctor, but i’m pretty sure I could be the congenital kind (or at least lost it at a very young age), and every post someone makes on there is my experience exactly!

    my parents thought i was lying. i pretended I could smell for most of my childhood. all the same predictable questions are asked of me (never got the “can you breathe” question though).

  2. The taste question is valid — 70-odd percent of taste comes from smell. Taste only differentiates bitter, salty, sweet, and sour.

    There was an episode of Scrubs that went over anosmia. Now I can’t hear the word without thinking of JD saying “a-nozzz-mia” … heh.

  3. The grass is always greener…

    I’m sure that having a reduced sense of anything can be disconcerting, be it sight, hearing, etc. I have the opposite problem: a heightened sense of smell.

    Just imagine walking down an alley, passing a recently startled skunk, someone’s bad breath, B.O. …yech. The stench is so powerful and overwhelming at times, that I “taste” what I smell and this can lead to vomiting if the odour is really offensive.

    I backpacked through Asia for years. Believe me, you do NOT want a heightened sense of smell when doing this. I’d rather have no sense than too much smell.

    “I’m sorry the smell of your perfume made me puke on your shoes. It’s lovely, really it is. It must have been something I ate”

  4. I am so interested to know peoples stories of Anosmia. I never knew about it untill I met my boyfriend over 4 years ago, and he has had anosmia ever since he can remember. I would love to hear if anything had ever worked? Apparently a few years ago there were a few surgeries that could be done but nothing is ever guaranteed. Please check out my post on anosmia too!

    • Hello IndigoGirlJay,

      I checked out your blog. You might be interested in this blog post:

      The fifth item is about a police officer who lost his job because he could no longer smell. More evidence that Anosmia is too be taken seriously.

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