Loss of smell and Fibromyalgia
Loss of smell with Fibromyalgia is one of the lesser symptoms we talk about. Unlike pain and chronic fatigue, it does not affect everyone, for some they even develop a heightened sense of smell, confusing I know.
"Anosmia is the medical term for loss of the sense of smell. It's usually caused by a nasal condition or brain injury, but some people are born without a sense of smell (congenital anosmia)." (Source)
Loss of smell can occur due to problems in the nose or problems in the brain or nervous system. Today, more and more neurologists are coming around to the idea that fibromyalgia is a real disorder (yippee!), and one that should be managed, or at least co-managed, by neurologists who care for chronic pain—not only the rheumatologists who originally identified the condition some 100 years ago. Using tools like functional MRI, which show the brain's response to pressure and heat stimuli, researchers have been able to measure how people with fibromyalgia process stimuli like pain and pressure. Some key differences have been discovered between fibromyalgia patients and those without the condition.
It is such a complex illness that care is now often divided between:
- a rheumatologist (a specialist in conditions that affect muscles and joints)
- a neurologist (a specialist in conditions of the central nervous system)
- a psychologist (a specialist in mental health and psychological treatments)
Fibromyalgia has numerous symptoms, meaning no single treatment will work for all of them. Treatments that work for some people will not necessarily work for others. Many are treated by Anticonvulsants, the different types of anticonvulsants may act on different receptors in the brain and have different modes of action. Medics do not know exactly how anticonvulsants work to reduce chronic pain. They may block the flow of pain signals from the central nervous system.
The most commonly used anticonvulsants for fibromyalgia are pregabalin and gabapentin. These are normally used to treat epilepsy (a condition that causes seizures), but research has shown they can improve the pain associated with fibromyalgia in some people.
This would all become logic then when trying to explain how you have lost your sense of smell with Fibromyalgia as it is a neurological condition.
How does the brain recognize, categorize and memorize the huge variety of odors?
In 1991, Richard Axel and Linda Buck published a groundbreaking paper that shed light on olfactory receptors and how the brain interprets smell. They won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the paper and their independent research
An illustration of how receptors function in the olfactory system
Image courtesy Nobelprize.org
They found that every olfactory receptor cell has only one type of receptor. Each receptor type can detect a small number of related molecules and responds to some with greater intensity than others. Essentially, the researchers discovered that receptor cells are extremely specialized to particular odors.
Axel and Buck also found that each olfactory receptor type sends its electrical impulse to a particular microregion of the olfactory bulb. The microregion, or glomerulus, that receives the information then passes it on to other parts of the brain. The brain interprets the "odorant patterns" produced by activity in the different glomeruli as the smell. There are 2,000 glomeruli in the olfactory bulb -- twice as many microregions as receptor cells -- allowing us to perceive a multitude of smells.
In conclusion, can you have lost your sense of smell due to fibromyalgia?
Yes, you can. It can be total loss or temporary. Mine goes for months on end and I can smell nothing at all, it affects my eating (well not too much as I am a delicious plus size lassy) and then suddenly I will wake one day and I can smell again, it usually lasts a few days and then suddenly goes. This cycle has continued for the duration of my illness. I still wear perfume as I remember the smells and still spend a fortune on Yankee candles as my sons tell me what they smell like, I love the surprise when I can suddenly smell one. The simple pleasures of life, the excitement of waiting to smell a candle burning.
Have you lost your sense of smell?
Has yours been heightened since Fibromyalgia?
Please get in touch and let me know I welcome the feedback.
ಌ Love and gentle hugs to you all
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