If the numbers impress you, the nose has fascinating ones. The human nose can recognize at least a trillion different smells. It has about 400 olfactory receptors which detect the molecular components of an odor. However, the bad news is that pollution, chemical exposure, infections, and some new factors have affected the topical point of the nose.
A new study points out that the sense of smell in humans has deteriorated in recent years. Sijia Wang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and Joel Mainland from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, Pennsylvania, USA, studied the genomes of 1,000 Han Chinese.
They discovered that there were changes in all of the genes responsible for our olfactory receptors. Because of this, our ability to smell began to gradually diminish. The study was published in the February edition of the journal PLOS Genetics.
“Pollution, exposure to harmful chemicals, hormonal imbalances and certain medications all lead to decreased sensitivity,” says Dr. Ravinder Gera, Director and Head of ENT Department, Max Hospital, Gurugram. “Studies show that the pandemic has played a role in the loss of sense of smell, both temporary and permanent,” says Dr. Kalpana Nagpal, an ENT specialist at Apollo Hospital in Delhi.
“It has been observed that the sense of smell in humans in this century is no longer the same as before. People have a reduced sense of smell as a result of nasal allergies or sinus infections and viral disorders. Even nasal polyposis is a common cause of hyposmia, a reduced ability to smell and detect odors. Nasal polyps are soft, painless growths on the lining of the nasal passages.
Environmental hazards are also responsible for mutating olfactory receptors as well,” adds Nagpal. Even a severe blow to the head and injuries to the nose are also major factors in diminishing odor, says Gera. Experts believe that due to too much exposure to dangerous gases, chemicals, pollutants, many people have now developed olfactory receptor mutations and their scents seem weaker.
According to Dr. EV Raman, ENT Consultant at Manipal Hospital, Old Airport Road, Bengaluru, “It has been observed that over the years the primary ability of the nose to detect food and predators has become less and less important as humans evolved with better intelligence and understanding of environmental hazards and food accessibility.
Less use of any organ will eventually lead to a gradual loss of function. Raman also points out that rapid urbanization leading to higher levels of air pollutants is another important factor for a decrease in smell.
Improve your sense of smell
✥ Reduce exposure to pollution and chemicals
✥ Follow an olfactory training program to regenerate neural pathways. In this context, patients are exposed to four different smells, twice a day for at least 24 weeks.
✥ Combining scent training with Pranayama is a proven method of scent recovery