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Study shows that concussions could cost you your sense of smell

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A group of scientists in Montreal have linked mTBIs to loss of smell and anxiety.

UFC 241 Cormier v Miocic 2 Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

According to Udem Nouvelles, the official news source of the Université de Montréal, it has long been established that people who suffer major blows to the head can temporarily lose their sense of smell. However, it appears as though mild blows to the head may also have the same repercussions.

This is all according to a new study published in the medical journal Brain Injury titled Olfactory, cognitive and affective dysfunction assessed 24 hours and one year after a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI).

The study was produced by an international team led by researchers at the Université de Montréal who compared 20 hospital patients who were suffering from mTBIs (also known as concussions) to 22 patients who had suffered broken limbs, but had no mTBIs.

The patients were examined within 24 hours of the accident that caused their injuries. Over half the patients with mTBIs exhibited reduced senses of smell. Only five-percent of the broken-limb group showed any change in their sense of smell.

To determine patients’ smelling capabilities, the study – which was conducted at a hospital that served a ski resort in the Swiss Alps – administered scented “Sniffin’ Sticks” to patients. Patients were asked to identify the various scents. Some of the scents included in the study were roses, garlic, and cloves.

The same individuals were examined a year later. The mTBI group had all regained their senses of smell by then, but a significant portion of them (65%) were suffering from anxiety. There were far more reports of anxiety in this group than in the broken-limb group.

“A lot of people will suffer a mild concussion at some point in their life, so realizing they have trouble smelling is the first step to telling their doctor about it,” said the study’s lead author Fanny Lecuyer Giguère. “It’s important that patients report any loss of smell, because it’s not something their general practitioner or emergency-room physician normally asks about.”

Lecuyer Giguère added that it is important that physicians educate their patients so that patients can track things like sense of smell and feelings of anxiety. That way they are more likely to receive an accurate diagnose of mTBI, and then receive appropriate treatment.