Imagine life without smell

Anosmia is the clinical term that describes the loss of smell.

We humans love to communicate, and smell is a surprisingly huge factor in fostering human connection. Imagine not being able to smell your own children, smoke from a fire, or your grandmother’s apple pie. While it’s not something we think about often, our sense of smell is directly related to how we experience and interact with the world around us. The loss of smell can greatly diminish our quality of life.
Monell Chemical Senses Center – Anosmia Hope

Did You Know

6.3 Millionis the number of Americans who report complete loss of smell, but the actual number likely is much higher.

Anosmia is considered an invisible disability.


are scared of being exposed to danger


report feeling isolated


report a change in perception of their own body odor


report feeling more vulnerable


feel more anxious than when they could smell


report that it has affected their romantic relationship


report their enjoyment of food has decreased


lose motivation to eat


report their condition makes them feel angry


report decreased enjoyment of intimacy

725 people with smell loss surveyed in Keller & Malaspina, 2013.
Not all were completely anosmic.

to help

how anosmia affects



Frankly, the loss of my sense of smell and the effect it has had on…

my perception of things has dampened the colors of the world for me.

Life is not the same

Anything I eat is the same as eating or chewing cardboard. My life is now full of depression.

Losing my sense of smell was a huge blow

smells evoke memories and enrich life. Life seemed very empty, like I was living in a box and looking out at the world.



I think the labeling of anosmia as a low risk disability is rather absurd.

I never know if there are bad fumes in the air. One time I almost passed out do to using a mislabeled bottle of solvent.

Once I forgot I had oil on in a pan while I went into another room,

and it was only when I looked up a few minutes later that there was black smoke pouring from the stove. I only eat leftovers the day or two after I make them for fear of it being spoiled.

I almost made myself very ill at work once

when a sewage leak happened in our building. I stayed at work while other people were fleeing with extreme nausea.



It took a long time to stop feeling like a freak.

I would do anything to stop having to fear smoke or fire or spoiled milk, to feel like a normal person again. There isn't anything I wouldn't do.

Since you can’t see my illness nobody thinks about it and everybody forgets.

So people keep asking me how I like their new perfume. Sometimes I just lie because telling my story makes me feel even worse and I don't want pity, I don't want the questioning looks in people's eyes starring in disbelief.

I think the most painful part of the loss was the total lack of compassion from others.

Colleagues and acquaintances joked that I wouldn't have to smell my daughter's dirty diapers anymore. A family member, upon hearing of my loss, asked me to give her all of my bath soaps.



I do notice that the anxiety and depression around the loss of smell grows greater by the week.

I am especially anxious about my home because I can't smell dirt and "cleanliness" (for lack of better word) and have become somewhat fixated on not letting people in.

Life has been difficult over the past year.

A year and a half ago I was training to be a sommelier. Today I am unemployed, unhappy, and inconsolable.

This has affected my life dramatically

I no longer enjoy cooking, eating out with friends and numerous other things. I've become extremely depressed and I would do anything to get it back.



Basically I have become afraid :

does my lack of sense of smell keep me from finding someone I'd like to spend the rest of my life with? Is there a relationship between anosmia and not detecting pheromones, causing one to fall out of "love" or "like" with partners very quickly?

Due to anosmia, my world is smaller, darker and sad sometimes.

At times I have difficulties meeting new people because I am so unsure about myself, how I smell and how they will think I smell. It is a vicious circle you can't get out of.

It also has led to reduced feelings of intimacy with my partners.

When I was 16 I had a girlfriend, and when she was away I was very cognizant of the way she smelled and would imagine it while on phone with her. I've never had that and the ensuing emotional attachment with anyone after the head trauma.


the most common causes of anosmia

Monell Chemical Senses Center – Anosmia Hope


Nasal Sinus Disease

Monell Chemical Senses Center – Anosmia Hope


Prior Upper Respiratory Infections

Monell Chemical Senses Center – Anosmia Hope


Head Trauma

Monell Chemical Senses Center – Anosmia Hope


Inborn or acquired in early infancy

Monell Chemical Senses Center – Anosmia Hope


of people age 80+ report some smell loss

Other causes include Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases

for as many as 10-24% of people, the cause for their smell loss cannot be determined.

we still have so much to learn

Scientists at Philadelphia's world-renowned Monell Chemical Senses Center explore the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. No organization is better suited to carry out scientific research designed to achieve the ultimate goal of developing treatments for anosmia. Your donation will directly support this critical research mission.


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