Hyperosmia: Definitions And Causes

Hyperosmia: definitions and causes

For example, people with hyperosmias may notice the smell of a flower in a pile of rubbish. They can also recognize a person’s smell from afar. However, hyperosm does not mean that these people suddenly become blood dogs or have superhuman powers. This means that they have developed a hypersensitivity to the sense of smell.

Hyperosmia: a feature or disorder?

Such an accurate sense of smell has as many benefits as it has unpleasant consequences. Some people see it as a blessing in their lives, while others see it as a source of endless suffering. Let’s look at a few examples.

woman smelling a flower

If we are just on the stairs of our residential building, and we smell our neighbors baking their magnificent stew or cake, our appetite will increase tremendously. We are so hungry! We want that food so much! If we have food available or we know our neighbors, then good. But if the thing we smell so strongly and constantly is not so appetizing or we can suddenly do nothing for the need we feel (hunger), it is different.

Next, we rest in peace in our living room after a long day at work, and we start to smell all sorts of things without being able to avoid them. We smell the shoe polish used by our neighbor, the air freshener in the toilet, the hairspray used by another neighbor, or the burnt oil. The only thing we would like to do in this situation is spend the rest of the day with the laundry boy on our noses.

What causes hyperosmia?

This disease occurs in the same area, albeit on the other side, as the other two odor-related perceptual disorders. One of these is hyposmia, or decreased sense of smell, and the other is anosmia, or complete lack of sense of smell.

Hyperosmia is the rarest of the three. This also means that it has not been studied as much as the other two. Not sure what causes it because it occurs in so few people. However, certain related causes or risk factors are known, such as menopause, Addison’s disease, thyroid business, or nerve damage caused by amphetamine use or detoxification, for example.

In some cases, hyperosmia disappears on its own. It only occurs for a certain period of time and then disappears. There are only a few extreme cases where it lasts a person’s entire life.

Is it helpful or harmful?

For a perfumer or sommelier, hyperosmia would be of great benefit. This is what happens to the  protagonist of the book and the movie Perfume . His hypersensitive sense of smell helps him be the best at his job. But for others, it can turn into complete suffering.

the sommelier has hyperosmia

This disorder causes serious problems in social settings. This is because of the discomfort or disgust they may begin to feel. They may start to see their favorite food disgusting or find their favorite perfume unbearable. They may even faint if they get stuck in cramped spaces or are in the middle of a large crowd, such as on the subway or bus.

What makes hyperosmia disappear?

Because it is not certain what causes hyperosmia, treatments and ways to treat it have led to conflicting results. For example, doctors have tried to treat this disorder with antipsychotic dopamine antagonists. By blocking these mediators, they are able to limit the amount of odors that enter the odor coils.

Thanks to the stories of people suffering from this disorder, it is known that smoking is one way to reduce the sense of smell in hyperosmia. But be careful! According to scientific evidence, smoking is not good for health at all.

Therefore, people with this disorder and the people around them should first avoid or eliminate any strong odors they simply cannot deal with. Such things include fish, meat, certain sauces or coffee. Since there is no medical treatment for this disorder, the only thing these people can do is limit their exposure to these odors.

Pregnant women and hyperosmia

One strange thing is that many women who experience such a “temporary” disorder are pregnant. That is, at the beginning and end of pregnancy, women have a hypersensitive sense of smell, mainly due to the fact that they have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone in their blood.

Pregnant women have a sharper sense of smell. During pregnancy, they may hate the smells they used to like, and vice versa. When they do indeed encounter disgusting odors, they may even vomit. For some pregnant women, this change disappears or worsens after the first trimester of pregnancy.  For some women, it persists throughout pregnancy and slowly disappears after childbirth.

a pregnant woman twitches her nose

This physiological change may be something we have received from our ancestors so that mothers can recognize their baby’s smell after giving birth.

Other strange odor-related disturbances

Dysosmia is a neurological disorder that causes changes in the sense of smell. It can occur as anosmia (we mentioned this earlier), parosmia, or fantosmia.

  • Parosmia has to do with impaired sense of smell. This causes our brains to be unable to distinguish between natural and natural odor. For example, for someone, the scent of a rose can be unpleasant, although it is usually pleasant.
  • Fantosism is a kind of hallucination of smell. This means that someone can smell odors that do not exist or at least are not present at that moment. This ghostly smell makes people think they smell some natural gas, or that they smell a leak, so they think they’re in a dangerous situation. They have a really strong sense that they smell this.

The smell of something fried in fat does not in itself satisfy the appetite. We therefore need to do more research into such disorders, especially hyperosmia. We need to know why and how it occurs in order to reduce its effects in the people who experience it.

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