Ah autumn. As the seasons change, most of us welcome colourful leaves littering the pavements, cosy knits and candle burning. But do you know what’s not welcome? Colds. Inevitably there will be one doing the rounds as the temperatures drop, and as a matter of fact, the author of this piece has the most terrible cold right now. And it got her thinking…
How can a virus block access to one of our strongest and most relied upon senses, and why does everything smell better once the autumnal sniffles have cleared off?
When we get a cold, it happens quickly. A few days and bam! Suddenly, the joy of scent and taste is taken away and the world is a little less bright. And even though you know it’s only temporary, the thought that these senses might not return definitely crosses your mind, if only for a brief panicked moment. Don’t try to deny it
Lack of smell is called Anosmia, and when a cold is particularly nasty, this goes hand in hand with a loss of taste too. Our olfactory receptors are in the upper portion of our noses, so when we’re feeling achy and blocked, the – excuse me – snot, prevents air from reaching these receptors. Sometimes it’s only on one side of your nose, but if you’re really unlucky it blocks both at the same time and you become a snivelling mouth breather for a few days
Naturally, after several days the virus runs its course and your airways begin to clear, meaning you can welcome your sense of taste and smell once again. And doesn’t everything smell even better than before? A new appreciation for the smells and flavours of the world is born, but did you know there’s a scientific reason for this?
Aside from the fact you’re secretly relieved to have your smell back, while you’ve spent the better part of last week blocked up, your brain has been adjusting to the lack of smell information to ensure your olfactory system doesn’t take a nosedive. Once your nose begins to receive information again, there’s an increase in brain activity sending your smell receptors into a bit of an overdrive for a few days, reversing the effects of your recent smell-deprivation
When this happens, strong scents will seem particularly potent, and what better time to whiff your favourite fragrances? It will be like smelling them for the first time all over again. As soon as your sense of smell returns, we recommend from our own practice, sniffing the following fragrances and fostering a renewed appreciation for these much-loved niche scents: