The Sense of Smell: How It Influences Your Emotion, Memory, and Health

smelling something

Scent can convey various messages. A good smell of flowers and fruits triggers good memories of a vibrant summer. Sometimes, scent can alert us from danger. This is why scent is essential, and losing it is something no one wants.

Scent, Emotion, and Memory

The Harvard Gazette states that scent plays a vital role in memory. According to the publication, smell is directly linked to the brain because of its structure. What sends the signal of smell is the olfactory bulb that is right in front of the brain. Everything we smell is shot straight from the nose to the amygdala and the hippocampus; both of these brain parts are related to emotion and memory.

This is why most businesses take advantage of scent. Since smell evokes memory and emotions, it’s a chance for businesses to connect to their consumers. In the bath and body industry, companies use fragrance oils for soap making. Additionally, movie theaters use odor to trigger a certain emotion from their audiences. Most hotels pride themselves on having signature scents; they use fragrance in branding and making their mark among customers.

Smell and Safety

As mentioned earlier, scent keeps people safe from danger. A smell can warn people from smoke; early detection of smoke can save many lives by immediately putting out the source before it turns into a massive fire. In the kitchen, the smell can warn individuals of a gas leak or spoiled food.

Additionally, a smell can warn against harmful elements inside the home. These harmful elements may include household chemicals and molds that are risky, especially for individuals prone to allergy.

Smell and Taste

Scent plays a vital role in how food tastes. The smell is what gives food flavor. The flavor is a combination of the aroma of the food, texture, and temperature.


Losing the Sense of Smell

Because of the importance of smell, losing the sense may be dangerous.

For one, a person who loses their sense of smell may also not be able to taste their food properly. As a result, they may add more salt or sugar into their food to add flavor. However, it is unhealthy and harmful to individuals, especially older adults who are experiencing medical problems. On other occasions, losing the sense of smell causes loss of appetite, weight loss, and malnutrition.

Additionally, one who loses the sense of smell may also be subjected to potential risks. For example, an individual who loses their sense of smell may not be able to detect spoiled food; consuming the spoiled food may result in other health problems, including diarrhea.

At the same time, losing the ability to smell may be risky in a potentially dangerous environment. One may lose the ability to detect toxic fumes and polluted air that are harmful to human health. Additionally, one loses the advantage of detecting smoke before it turns into a big fire.

Conditions Related to Loss of Smell

Nowadays, when people lose their sense of smell, they instantly think they have COVID-19. However, there are other reasons to lose the ability to smell things. Nasal and sinus inflammation are two of these reasons.

The temporary or permanent loss of smell is called anosmia. Anosmia happens when excessive mucus creates an obstruction that prevents the nose from doing its function. However, sometimes, the loss of the sense of smell may have another reason; if there is no congestion in the nose and one cannot still smell, a visit to the doctor may be required.

Harvard Medical News states that COVID-infected individuals usually experience anosmia. However, among COVID-19 patients, studies show that they only experience anosmia temporarily. This is great news. In some cases, people who experience permanent anosmia also face mental issues such as depression and anxiety.

Anosmia, Depression, and Anxiety

Having permanent anosmia can be compared to being blind. People who have the disease experiences depression and anxiety because of several reasons.

For one, an individual with anosmia loses their ability to discern danger; this causes anxiety because they are more at risk of getting caught in a fire or emergency. Another reason is the loss of the ability to smell the food; when they can’t smell the food, they do not get to experience the natural flavors of the food. Hence, individuals with anosmia cannot enjoy their food as much as other people can.

At the same time, individuals with anosmia experience social anxiety because they cannot detect if they have body odor; this is difficult in social situations and may cause them to lose self-esteem.

All these findings point to one crucial conclusion: scent is essential and losing the ability is detrimental to physical and mental health.

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