Often Mistaken for The Same, Here’s the Difference Between Anosmia, Parosmia And Phantosmia

Anosmia Parosmia And Phantosmia

Currently, disturbances that occur in the sense of smell should be aware because it can be a sign of Covid-19. Anosmia, Parosmia, and Phantosmia are known to be new symptoms of Covid-19 that have recently been heard. However, many people mistakenly think that anosmia, parosmia and phantosmia belong to a term with the same meaning.

It is true that all three are both diseases related to impaired sense of smell, but there are differences between the three. Then, what is the difference between the three disorders of the sense of smell? Let’s take a good look at the review below.

Understanding Anosmia, Parosmia and Phantosmia


Anosmia is a loss of a person’s ability to smell, even this condition can also eliminate the patient’s ability to taste food. This can be a temporary or permanent condition. This condition can certainly affect a person’s life. This is because patients can no longer smell and taste food so that it will trigger loss of appetite that results in weight loss, malnutrition, to depression.

Symptoms of anosmia inevitably begin with a loss of olfactory ability. For example anosmia sufferers may not have been aware of inhaling toxic, polluted gases that are extremely harmful to health. Even someone suffering from anosmia may accidentally eat stale food because they cannot detect the smell that indicates decay.

The common causes of anosmia are usually caused by disturbances in the walls of the nose such as colds, non-allergic rhintis, rhintis, sinusitis, flu, poor air quality maupu. But there are other causes of anosmia such as:

  • Disorders of the nasal cavity caused by nasal polyps, nasal bone abnormalities, and tumors
  • Damage to the brain and nervous system as a result of surgery or trauma to the head
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Radiation treatment for head and neck cancer


Parosmia includes new symptoms of Covid-19 that have recently appeared. This condition can be said to be almost similar to anosmia. If anosmia is a loss of olfactory and taste ability, then Parosmia is a condition that makes the sufferer have a disorder in identifying a smell. Parosmia sufferers may have difficulty in recognizing some odors in the surrounding environment.

The main symptom of parosmia is to smell the stench constantly even when it is in a place that smells good. Many people experience parosmia due to different things including Covid-19. According to Professor Nirmal Kumar, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon explained that parosmia is related to nerves in the brain, especially the nerves that control the sense of smell.

Parosmia occurs because it is caused by damage to neurons that serve as odor detectors in the nose. It is this damage to neurons that causes the nose to misinterpret the odor received by olfactorius bulbus which has a function to detect and filter odors. In addition, parosmia is also caused by other conditions such as:

  • Head injuries
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke and chemicals
  • Side effects of cancer treatment
  • Tumor

This parosmia condition is usually temporary. Neurons as odor detectors in the nose will improve over time. However, the recovery time also differs according to the cause, symptoms and treatment experienced. If Parosmia is caused by environmental factors, viruses or infections, cancer treatment or smoking, the ability to smell can return to normal in the absence of treatment. However, the recovery time can take about 2 to 3 years.


Phantosmia is a condition that makes a person can smell odors that do not actually exist where it is often referred to as olfactory hallucinations. Generally the sufferer will smell like smoke or smell something burning. However, the type of smell that is smelled varies by person, even the smell may continue to smell or can come and go.

This condition can also occur only temporarily or permanently. If this happens, one should be vigilant as it can be a symptom of Covid-19.

In general, this condition is caused by problems that occur in the nose and mouth including:

  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Sinus infection
  • Irritation from smoking
  • Irritation due to poor air quality
  • Nasal polyps
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Dental problems
  • Migraine
  • Exposure to toxic substances harmful to the nervous system
  • Radiation treatment from cancer

In addition, there are also some un common conditions that could be the cause of Phantosmia, including:

  • Head injuries
  • As a result of the
  • Brain tumor
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Parkinson
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer ‘s

A person experiencing Phantosmia is usually characterized by symptoms of the appearance of odors that actually do not exist. The majority of sufferers will smell unpleasant or foul. Some types of odors that most often appear such as the smell of rotten bread, rubber, cigarette smoke, metal odor, and others that smell unpleasant.

However, sometimes Phantosmia sufferers also find a smell that has never been inhaled before so it is difficult to describe it. For patients with severe Phantosmia, it can make daily activities disrupted. Even this condition can make the appetite drop so that it undergoes a drastic weight loss. This is because Phantosmia affects the sense of taste.

Differences between Anosmia, Parosmia and Phantosmia

The conditions of Anosmia, Parosmia and Phantosmia are sometimes mistaken for something similar, but all three turn out to be different. Although the symptoms are almost similar and equally related to the problem of the sense of smell, there are some things that distinguish.

Anosmia is a loss of the ability of the sense of smell so that one can no longer use the sense of smell to smell. Parosmia is a condition that causes a person difficulty in identifying the smell of something so that sometimes they are wrong in recognizing what smell it inhales. As for Phantosmia is a hallucination of smell where one can smell the actual smell of nothing.

If you feel any symptoms that refer to the three olfactory disorders above be it Anosmia, Parosmia, and Phantosmia, you should consult a doctor directly. Ask if these symptoms show symptoms of Covid-19 or just diseases of the common sense of smell disorder. Good luck.

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