Hyperosmia: a heightened sense of smell

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Hyperosmia is an enhanced sense of smell which is frequently accompanied by unpleasant symptoms. Hyperosmia can also occur intermittently, especially when they co-occur with other diseases, such as upper respiratory infections or migraines.

A lower odour threshold causes Hyperosmia, which leads to an enhanced olfactory sense. It advances when there is a signal elevated point between the olfactory receptors and the olfactory cortex. The odorants that give rise to the sense of smell are found by olfactory receptors, which are conveyed in the cell membranes of neurons.

Hyperosmia, which typically manifests as persistently elevated scent sensitivity, can also be inherited in some circumstances. The majority of the time, Hyperosmia doesn’t require medical attention.

What causes Hyperosmia? 

Neurological and Immune conditions 

The lack of vitamin B12, Lyme disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Tourette’s syndrome are a few diseases that have been linked to Hyperosmia.

Although Hyperosmia has been documented frequently as one of the well-known symptoms, it is not the main or most prevalent symptom of any of these disorders.

Physiological causes 

The olfactory nerve, also referred to as cranial nerve one or the first cranial nerve, is in charge of controlling the detection and identification of odours. An individual can perceive and respond to those odours due to the olfactory nerve, which is activated by smell receptors on the nasal passage surface and transmits signals to the cerebral cortex of the brain.

Dysfunction of the sense of smell could be a result of issues with the receptors, the nerve or the cerebral cortex regions (the insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and hippocampal region) that integrate those signals.

The deficiency along this route causes Hyperosmia. While Hyperosmia related to an upper respiratory infection is brought on by a problem with superficial odour sensing on the nasal passages, Hyperosmia related to epilepsy is brought on by abnormal activity in the cerebral cortex.

In the brain region known to be involved with emotions and memory, the hippocampus, as well as the orbitofrontal cortex, which is responsible for recognising odours consciously, have been discovered to be larger in super smellers.

Other causes 

Osmophobia and Hyperosmia are common symptoms of several diseases. These ailments, like epilepsy, migraines and allergies, are frequently episodic. Toxin exposure is one of several uncommon illnesses that might be challenging to diagnose. A few other causes include

  • Pregnancy
  • Toxin exposure
  • Allergy
  • Epilepsy
  • Migraine
  • Upper respiratory infection

Rare causes 

Hyposmia, or reduced olfactory sensitivity, is often linked to neurological diseases, especially Alzheimer’s, Parkinson‘s and stroke. 

Hyposmia typically results in decreased appetite and weight loss. Hyperosmia is known to coexist with hyposmia. This is due to an alteration in the entire olfactory (smelling) system and not just a decline in function.

Furthermore, unpleasant smells are frequently the most noticeable. However, this could just be due to the fact that individuals are more prone to notice and react to bad odours than to pleasant smells.

Symptoms of Hyperosmia 

A person with Hyperosmia has a stronger sense of smell than others, which over time, could make them feel queasy or uncomfortable when exposed to particular odours. People react differently to different smells, however some typical ones that might make people feel uneasy include

  • Chemicals
  • Scented candles
  • Perfumes or scents
  • Cleaning or disinfectant products

Changes in the sense of smell can cause headaches, vomiting and nausea in patients with hypersomnia. This could also result in a migraine attack because of certain smells.

Hyperosmia in pregnancy 

Changes in the sense of smell might result from hormonal changes during pregnancy. In the first trimester of pregnancy, the majority of pregnant women have a more acute sense of smell.

Increased nausea and vomiting are possible in those who have Hyperosmia during pregnancy.

Following the end of gestation and the return of normal hormone levels, pregnancy-induced Hyperosmia usually disappears.

Hyperosmia diagnosis 

Any other new symptoms that a person may be experiencing should be noted if their sense of smell changes.

A doctor will probably start by analysing the patient’s symptoms before performing a thorough physical examination.

A doctor may then prescribe more tests to determine the cause of the origin of the Hyperosmia is unclear. Imaging exams and blood tests are examples of potential examinations.

Treatment for Hyperosmia 

Finding the causes is essential to treatment. The best way to treat hyperosmia is to stay away from the fragrance that triggers it. People who suffer from hyperosmia may find it easier to escape odours if they chew sweets or peppermint.

However, treating the underlying causes of Hyperosmia is primarily required for effective management. The doctor may change the medicine if a side effect of one drug results in Hyperosmia. If the problem is severe, surgery may be necessary to remove an unwanted growth of tissue from the nose or skull.

Staying away from odours that trigger Hyperosmia is considered the best course of action for the condition. Strong chemical odours and specific foods can trigger smells. However, they may differ from person to person.

When a fragrance cannot be avoided, a person may discover that it is helpful to chew peppermint gum or savour peppermint candies until they are able to move away from the source of the smell. A doctor may prescribe medication to treat the underlying issues that cause Hyperosmia.


Super smellers are people who have a more acute sense of smell than ordinary people. This condition is described medically as Hyperosmia. Hypersomia occurs as some exceptional smellers may be more affected by pleasant smells than others.

Since Hyperosmia is a relatively uncommon illness, there is still a lot that is unknown about it.


How common is Hyperosmia? 

Super smellers may differ in their sensitivity to pleasant and unpleasant smells. Some super smellers are more sensitive to pleasant smells. Hyperosmia is so uncommon. There is still a lot that remains unknown about it.

What is Hyperosmia a symptom of? 

Some autoimmune diseases frequently manifest Hyperosmia as a symptom. Impaired kidney function, which can result in Addison’s disease, an issue with the adrenal glands, might also cause hyperosmia. Due to the disease’s effects on the neurological system, systemic lupus erythematosus also has an impact on smell.

What hormone causes smell sensitivity? 

The hormone ghrelin, which is mostly produced in the stomach, attaches to molecules in the olfactory bulb of the brain, indicating that it is directly involved in the perception of a smell.

Can anxiety cause a heightened sense of smell?

NCBI states that persistent psychological distress may also result in olfactory system changes that affect the sensitivity of a person to smells.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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