What is the role of conductive defects in the etiology of taste and smell disorders?

Updated: Jan 08, 2021
  • Author: Eric H Holbrook, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Inflammatory processes cause a large portion of olfactory defects. These may include rhinitis of various types, including allergic, acute, or toxic (eg, cocaine use). Chronic rhinosinusitis causes progressive mucosal disease and often leads to decreased olfactory function despite aggressive allergic, medical, and surgical intervention.

Masses may block the nasal cavity, preventing the flow of odorants to the olfactory epithelium. These include nasal polyps (most common), inverting papilloma, or any nasal tumor.

Developmental abnormalities (eg, encephaloceles, dermoid cysts) also may cause obstruction.

Patients with laryngectomies or tracheotomies experience hyposmia because of a reduced or absent nasal airflow. Children with tracheotomies who are cannulated very young and for a long period may have a continued problem with olfaction even after decannulation because of a lack of early stimulation of the olfactory system.

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