Protecting Your Sense of Smell as You Age With Smell Therapy
Smell loss is common with aging. About 62.5% of seniors over 80 years old may have an altered sense of smell, according to research.
While It may seem like an unimportant detail, losing your smell can be extremely frustrating. This could mean a lot of troubles - from having trouble enjoying food, to inability to detect dangers in the home, higher safety concerns when driving and everything between.
This article discusses how you (particularly if you're a senior) can protect your sense of smell as you age with smell therapy. Whether for hyposmia(partial smell loss) ( name others) you can protect your sense of smell as you age with treatments like the smell therapy.
But before we go over how you can protect (or restore) your sense of smell, first things first….
What is Smell Therapy?
Smell Therapy (otherwise, olfactory training) involves the use of scented items, like essential oils, to rewire the brain's ability to process odors like before.
Explaining how it works, experts say the unique selected aromas stimulate areas in the brain responsible for processing highly pleasant scents, before moving on to less pleasant ones - after achieving success at each level.
This smell therapy innovation isn't just effective, it can be as easy as practicing a few minutes of daily meditation and as interesting as eating apples! With consistency, gradually and over time, your nose starts picking up subtle scents like never before, bit-by-bit.
What Exactly Causes Loss of Smell ?
We can lose our sense of smell to a lot of factors. Common culprits of temporary smell loss includes;
- Flu or cold which can result in a stuffy nose. You naturally regain your smell sense as your airways clears,
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) comes with several symptoms, including smell loss. While you may begin to recover your sense of smell as other symptoms wane, essential oil smell therapy can speed up the reversal process.
- Allergies - In reaction to allergens like pets and pollen, your olfactory senses may be obstructed and smell senses suspended. Essential oil smell therapy works great here too.
- Polyp. Although harmless, this growth occurs in the sinuses or nose and triggers runny nose. Surgery is usually used to remove the growth.
- Certain medications, like antibiotics and blood pressure pressure prescriptions can also alter your smell, temporarily. You may discuss a possible alternative with your doctor.
Chemotherapy, radiation and related cancer treatments are other common culprits. Patients gradually regain their sense of smell sometime after treatment.
- Age: Our smell may begin to deteriorate from around 50+ and even worsen after 60. It’s a completely natural aging sign caused by injuries and harm the olfactory epithelium encounters over time. The olfactory epithelium is a tissue inside the nasal cavity, with receptor cells that promote your sense of smell.
Smoking, respiratory infections, head trauma, and environmental toxins, overtime, may add up to inhibit your sense of smell at old age.
How Your Sense of Smell Works
Your sense of smell (otherwise called olfactory) belongs to the chemical sensing system - alongside sense of taste.
Normally, we smell when an odor stimulates special olfactory receptor cells situated at the upper part of your nose. Typically, odors consist of odorant molecules which evaporate, spread in the air, which we inhale. Your receptor cells recognize these invisible molecules and send signals to your olfactory bulb and brain, which identify the different smells and decodes their sources.
Odors pass through two pathways to reach the sensory cells – through your nose, and through the mouth. While you chew, the food’s aroma goes through a channel that links the inner throat to your nasal cavity, which then activates the olfactory receptors. This pathway usually clogs when one catches flu and other related culprits of nasal congestion, thereby inhibiting smell and taste.
Consequences of Loss of Smell
We all rate sight and hearing as the most important senses to daily life quality. But smell is very important. As with seeing and hearing, smelling helps you get information about the environment and your interaction with them.
Your sense of smell helps you understand the features of your surroundings that may not be possible (or less obvious) with other senses.
For instance, a fresh-looking food might have actually gone sour. Generally, distorted olfactory prevents aged from identifying an inedible food. Some smells can also give heads up on dangers, including gas leak, strong harmful chemicals, fire smoke etc.
Sadly, many seniors are ignorant of their smell loss, since it deteriorates in bits and overtime. In many cases, they only realize something isn’t right when an accident, caused by delayed attention to an emergency or consuming bad food, strikes.
- Change in Dietary Patterns
With the close link between taste and smell, there's no wonder smell loss affects diets and appetite, greatly.
An anomaly in your olfactory dampers one’s ability to relish food flavors – no matter how sumptuous they seem. This may cause changes in dietary preferences, appetite loss, and even overeating. While many query the food ingredients or their taste buds, too often, a weak sense of smell is the chief culprit.
Ignorantly, most seniors begin to eat overly sugary, salty or spicy meals to feel the desired taste. This often causes weight gain or overeating and can be dangerous particularly for people battling heart disease, diabetes, and related health conditions.
- Reduced Quality of Life
Did you know severe loss of smell can cause depression?
Smells and memories have close links. Certain smells can register and bring back strong memories and emotions.
Sadly, a distorted (or reduced) smell can wipe off such memorable moments and experiences, leaving your age with little or no remarkable throwbacks.
How to Test Your Smell Sense
To test smell, a smell therapist will present you highly fragrant substances like vanilla bean, cloves, coffee and soaps. Placed beneath your nose, (a nostril per time) and you'll be asked to detect the smell.
There are, however, other more-standard commercial smell tests. Some kits allow you to sniff and identify different smells. For others, they come with diluted samples of pungent chemicals. Your doctor will observe how diluted the smelly chemicals can be before you no longer perceive the smell. This helps to establish the severity of the smell loss.
COVID-19 suspects may undergo viral testing and be handled according to the CDC’s protocols, like the quarantine guidelines.
Where the cause isn't a clear cause of your smell loss, Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) and Computed Tomography(CT) of the head is carried out to investigate an abscess, fracture, or a tumor.
Smell Loss Reversal
If you notice a distorted smell - for instance, you suddenly can't smell your hubby’s fragrance, your kiddo’s poo, or a gas leak - you need help.
Some underlying health conditions or certain lifestyle can inhibit your sense of smell. While chronic sinusitis can be managed with drugs like corticosteroids, patients may undergo outpatient surgery for more severe cases like benign nasal polyps.
Other cases of smell loss can be managed through olfactory training, or smell therapy.
A research analysis explained that virus-related smell loss patients placed on the OT had three times improvement of their symptoms, compare
Findings show that most people whose smell loss was caused by COVID regained their smell, in full, after about six months, even without treatment. But in the event it persists, most smell experts recommend OT. Besides, a six-month wait without smell is a wait too long - a lot can happen within this timeframe.
Smell training may also help age-rated smell loss - In fact, there’s hardly any more-natural, less risky, and more affordable option. However, smell therapy may be more effective when used alongside other prescriptions for more critical causes like Parkinson’s Disease and head trauma.
While you can get OT programs at many medical centers, products like MOXE Smell Training Bundle allow you restore your sense of smell right from the comfort of your home or even at the office. All it requires is you, your essential oils, and a few minutes twice a day - preferably morning and evening.
MOXE’s smell therapy kit includes four doctor recommended essential oils with aromas recommended for therapy for anosmia,(smell loss), hyposmia (reduced smell) or phantosmia (distorted smell). These selected odors, Rose, lemon, eucalyptus and clove represent vital aromas in the Odor Prism.
How to Use Essential Oil for Smell Loss
- Before anything, take notes about the severity of your condition. This way, it’s easier to tell if you're making any progress – since the changes may begin in bits.
- Next, find a convenient time in your day to undergo the smell training – preferably morning and evening. It won't take more than a few minutes.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Get your essential oils close - I recommend lemon, rose, eucalyptus, and clove. One by one, open, hold a bit away from your nose, and take short gentle sniffs. Say, 20 second per smell. While at it, try to relate the scent with a memory.
- After inhaling each scent, take a break, a few fresh breaths, then move to the next aroma.
- Repeat until you’ve inhaled all the scents.
However, while the OT has shown great results, don’t expect an instantaneous effect. For instance, In the review mentioned above, the training spanned between three and 14 months before any notable result was achieved.
Imagine the inability to smell the world around you. Besides being unable to smell your favorite scents, you can't even tell when danger lurks.
While smell loss may be a natural aging process, losing your smell is too much a loss to live forever with..
Smell therapy can help reverse the effects of aging on our smell and help us enjoy smells of freshly baked cookies and also to detect and avert danger around! Who wouldn't want that?
I hope you know well-enough how to use smell training to restore your sense of smell as you age. With a little bit of knowledge and commitment, it should be easy for anyone to enjoy essential oils benefits, while also protecting their sense of smell.
If you found this article informative, there’re many more useful essential oil topics to check out on our blog posts. And, feel free to contact us if you have any questions!