I’m 19 and have completely lost my sense of smell. It’s been at least a decade since I’ve been able to smell (I cannot remember any specific scent, but my mother swears I was once able to smell), and recently I’ve found out that I require jaw surgery for a separate matter. To perform the surgery successfully, I first need an operation done on my nose, without which the breathing tube needed wouldn’t be able to fit.
My newest doctor says this surgery will allow me to smell again.
I’ve been to more doctors than I can remember about this smelling thing- and the consensus has been that the nerves were severed.
I want to know if I should believe this new doctor, or if I shouldn’t get my hopes up.
The evaluation of loss of smell and any forecast of recovery of the sensation of smell requires the expertise of those few who engage in this very narrow subspecialty. There are many causes of a loss of smell including, trauma, viral infections and tumors that arise in the frontal area of the brain. Nerves may indeed be severed or permanently damaged, beyond repair, by viral infections.
The expertise required for a thorough, informed evaluation is most likely to be found at institutions with great experience with all kinds of olfactory problems, such as Massachusetts General in Boston, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins. You would do well to consult with your doctors for guidance to the best places. You should be cautious, in expectation that your sense of smell will return and carefully question anyone who promises it will regarding that person's experience with this problem, the extent of his experience with loss of smell and the outcomes of his surgery and the reason(s) why he has reason to believe that the proposed nasal surgery will result in your recovery of a sense of smell. He could be right if, for example, the loss is due to extensive nasal polyposis but you have a right to know the logic behind his optimism.
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