Anosmia (I Can't Smell!)

I am an anosmiac, which means that I have no ability to smell. Many people say that they would hate to not have a sense of smell because of its effects on eating, but I am perfectly fine with it. Besides, if I had to lose one sense, I think smelling would be the best one to lose. I only hope that the smelling part of my brain is being put to good use. =)


No one knows how I lost my sense of smell or if I was born without it. I have no memory of ever being able to smell. My family did not learn of my lack of the sense until I was 17.

As a kid, I had no idea that I could not smell. Since I could never smell anything, I always thought that most smells were simply too faint to detect. Under certain conditions with specific odors that are very strong, I could sense a tiny hint of the odor. Strangely, the odors that this happened with showed no specific pattern and many other odors that were considered much more noticeable and catching did not elicit any reaction from me.

The yearly event that ultimately uncovered my anosmia was Father's Day. Every year we would get my dad aftershave and cologne, and every year I could not tell the difference between any of them. I could only sense the tingling of breathing in a fresh squirt of cologne, which I did not like at all. For some reason, I thought that my experience was the norm so I never mentioned the issue to anyone.

When I was 17, I told my mom how I could never tell the difference between any of the scents when we went shopping for Father's Day. I ended up going to a nose specialist, and after some medications and a few tests the specialist concluded that I had anosmia. He said that I could have been born without the olfactory nerves, I could have sustained a head injury when I was little, or I could have lost my sense of smell due to a severe childhood illness.

My Weird Adaptation

Despite having no sense of smell, I can still detect the presence of some odors based on air density/consistency and sinus reactions. Many different odors seem to produce different sinus reactions (light tingling or pressure patterns above my eyebrows and sometimes in my cheeks). I am not sure if these sensations are a result of a faulty interpretation of smell or if I truly have no sense of smell and am able to notice more subtle events that occur when breathing in various odors.

Due to these sinus reactions, I do not like many odors. For example, any coffee-like smell produces a dark, heavy pressure above my eyebrows that can be best described as a strong but dull headache. Any perfume or cologne produces a sensation that is similar to having water droplets from a mister hitting your skin, except it feels like it is occurring inside of your nasal cavity. I cannot describe any of these reactions as particularly pleasant, and in general, I prefer to have none of the smells that cause these reactions around.


As a result of anosmia, I do not have much sense of taste because most of what you perceive as tasting is actually smelling. Since I have no smell/taste, I am not a big fan of food. I do not enjoy eating and I see it more as a chore that I am unfortunately required to perform multiple times each day in order to stay alive.

With the absence of smell/taste, my perception of whether a food "tastes" good revolves around the texture, presentation, and how I feel after consuming the item. My diet tends to be a little bland, or extreme to some people. I drink 100% juices such as cranberry juice, orange juice, apple juice, or mixtures with grape, pomegranate, etc. for all meals and drink water or sometimes more juice for the rest of the day. I do not drink any milk because it just does not feel right and I cannot have lots of calcium in the morning due to some medications. I despise coffee and have no interest in alcohol.

My primary meals consist of oatmeal or eggs in the morning, deli meat for lunch, and meat loaf, spaghetti, boneless pork ribs (crock pot goodness), chili, a specific vege-beef soup, boneless pork chops (more crock pot goodness), or cheeseburgers. Yes, my general main course meal plans are so limited that I can list them in a single sentence. =) I do not scoff at eating other meals or going out to eat, but when the choice is left to me (and especially when I am eating by myself), the previous list completely describes the main courses that I will choose to cook.

In addition to any of the main courses for lunch or dinner, I always include a fruit (pears, peaches, or mandarin oranges), a vegetable (green beans, peas, or infrequently corn), and a yogurt. I go through about half of a standard 15-ounce can of the fruit (and the same with the vegetable) during a single sitting. I generally eat more of the fruit, vegetable, and yogurt than the main course.

I prefer to stay away from eating a lot of bread. I find that bread dries the mouth and generally requires more work to eat than other foods. As a result, my main course for lunch is literally just deli meat (no bread, lettuce, or condiments).

For snacks I eat dried fruit, cereal bars, granola bars, pop tarts (the ones with whole wheat in them), and trees (broccoli). I also eat a stalk of broccoli while I walk to class each morning. I like broccoli because it is like eating a bunch of little trees.