Loss of sense of smell (anosmia): What causes it?

content provided by mayoclinic.com

Loss of sense of smell (anosmia): What causes it?


We recently learned that our 6-year-old son has no sense of smell. What causes this?

No name
No state given


Loss of ability to smell (anosmia) can be temporary or permanent depending on the cause. Temporary anosmia is common with colds, sinus infections (sinusitis) and nasal allergies. Other potential causes of anosmia include:

  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Nasal polyps
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • A side effect of medication
  • Trauma to the face and nasal structures
  • Tumors, such as neuroblastomas, meningiomas, frontal globe gliomas and pituitary gland tumors

Rarely, babies are born without a sense of smell (congenital anosmia), such as in Kallmann syndrome, an uncommon inherited disorder. In some cases, the cause of anosmia can't be determined (idiopathic anosmia).

Last Updated: 02/08/2007
© 1998-2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Terms and conditions of use


Bookmark and Share   E-Mail Page   Printer Friendly Version