September 12, 2017 – Smell and Inflammation


Anchor lead: You may not appreciate your sense of smell until it’s gone, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Chronic inflammation of the sinuses can compromise what’s known as the olfactory system, which gives us the ability to smell, but a low level of inflammation allows this tissue to be repaired. That’s the surprising finding of a study by Andrew Lane, an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins. Lane says loss of smell can also happen following injury or infection.

Lane: It’s a problem that’s probably not highly recognized, because people don’t necessarily understand for example your sense of taste is mostly smell. What you appreciate as flavor is mostly coming from your sense of smell not really from your tongue. People don’t appreciate while they have it how important your sense of smell is for detecting danger, for social interactions, just enjoyment of good smells in life. For the most part, loss of the sense of smell has very debilitating effects on people.  :27

Lane says his study points to a need to regulate inflammation so normal repair can proceed but chronic destruction can’t. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.