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Olfactory Disorders

  • Date Submitted: 04/25/2010 10:54 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45.2 
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Parker Hawkins
Olfactory Dysfunction
  Although the sense of smell (also known as olfactory function) goes unnoticed and unappreciated by most of society; it is estimated that one out of a hundred Americans suffers from complete loss of smell. There are several known olfactory disorders. The most common are anosmia, the loss of smell; and hyposmia, the diminished sense of smell. Some people also suffer from hyperosmia, an increased sense of smell; parosmia, misperception of certain smells; and phantosmia, the presence of a smell that isn’t there. These disabilities may sound like a joke, but for many people they are a serious issue that affects their everyday life.

How smell works
    The sensation of smell occurs when molecules enter your olfactory receptor cells located deep in the nose. Tens of millions of olfactory receptor cells line deep in the nose, olfactory receptor cells are very specialized; each cell has one receptor that reacts with several molecules, some molecules cause a greater intensity in receptors than others. Once molecules are detected by the receptors, an electrical impulse is sent to your olfactory bulb. Within your olfactory bulb there are around two thousand glomeruli which receive signals from particular receptors. The glomeruli serve as important waypoints for transferring signals from the olfactory receptors to the olfactory epithelium. The olfactory epithelium is where the network of olfactory neurons resides and where the odorant pattern is decoded by the brain and perceived as an aroma.
    Several factors can affect a person’s ability to smell. A large factor is age, as we age the sense of smell declines. Also, females usually have better olfaction than males. Alcohol dependence and smoking have been shown to decrease olfactory function.   A large factor in olfaction is medical history, Even fairly common issues like allergies, sinonasal infections, or head injuries can effect a person’s ability to smell.
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