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Health A-Z

Smell: 'I've lost my sense of smell. Is it age-related?

"I'm 67, and I have lost my sense of smell. Food and drink no longer give much pleasure. I did have a virus last year which lingered longer than usual. Is this sense of smell and taste likely to return?"

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Vision and hearing tend to deteriorate with age, but smell usually holds up well. Losing it can be the first sign of something serious. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's can start with the loss of sense of smell. It can also be caused by a head or nose injury that damages the olfactory nerves. Slow-growing brain tumours can press on the olfactory nerves, preventing them working. But a far more common cause is allergy, leading to the lining of your nose becoming swollen and inflamed. There are treatments for allergic nasal problems that can restore your smell to normal. First, get a proper diagnosis, via referral to an ENT or allergy specialist. Allergies to simple things, like dust, feathers and household pets, can cause this kind of problem.