A World Without Smell


Just think about it. What is the first thing that comes to mind when pertaining to the five senses? It should be touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell. But what if the latter was non-existent? Indeed, it might be difficult without a sense of smell, for how can someone know if there was a fire in the next room or there was a gas leak in the house? Anosmia, the condition in which a person has no sense of smell, and Hyposmia, in which there is only minimal sense, affects roughly three percent of Americans. I am a part of that percentage.
I have Congenital Anosmia, which means I have not been able to smell since birth, and although there is treatment, most remedies are expensive or simply do not last. For example, a woman I met a year ago had the same problem as I have and had received the surgery to allow her to smell somewhat normally. Not too long after the surgery, she could not smell once again, so all that money she had spent was wasted.
Now, for a quick science lesson: Anosmia or Hyposmia classifies as an invisible disability meaning we do not get parking passes. Usually smells are recognized in the olfactory bulb, which is located under the front half of the brain, and smell molecules lock into the corresponding nerve cells like a lock and key. But with Anosmia, there are abnormalities in the olfactory epithelium, which is what traps and recognizes odors, and there lies the problem that I, along with many others, have. Over the last century, treatment options have been discovered, such as medication, a special surgery, and aromatherapy.
Despite the possible treatments, some will not part with their Anosmia lightly as they might think of it as a blessing and a curse seeing that they cannot smell the good nor the bad. There are; however, drawbacks to congenital Anosmia that can diminish self-acceptance. With my condition, I cannot smell the meaningful things like flowers or fragrant candles, and I evidently do not understand the concept of smelling and how the brain keeps track of all the different fragrances (humans have roughly 400 types of scent receptors that can detect at least 1 trillion different odours).
There are personal preferences and behaviors when it comes to my particular case of anosmia, as everyone’s instance can differ in small manners. Thanks to a sensitivity to sweets, I do not enjoy frosting and in turn often mutilate cake and wipe the frosting off of cupcakes. Equally, I have an intense dislike for sugar cookies, as they usually taste bland and have no flavor. On the flip side, I take to spicy food and love anything under the sun when it comes to hot dishes, chips, etcetera.
Despite all the downsides and dangers to having anosmia, the experience is not completely appalling as long as there is care to living with it. Still, there is much research to be done as not a great deal is known about the condition.