9 Interesting Facts About The Sense Of Smell

Scents play a big part in our lives. They can spark memories and jumpstart an appetite. They can also keep you safe when a fire breaks out. The ability to smell adds personality to our environments, both good and bad. And while it’s easy to take it for granted, take some time to learn these nine amazing facts. You might have a new appreciation for your sense of smell!

9 Interesting Facts

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1. You Can Smell A Thousand Aromas

9 Interesting Facts About The Sense Of Smell

Your schnoz is full of sensory neurons that help you recognize different smells. But did you know that over one thousand different types exist? It means that you can detect over a thousand scents! The neurons do this by using receptors on the cilia that line the nose.1

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2. You Can Lose Your Sense Of Smell

9 Interesting Facts About The Sense Of Smell


Anosmia is the complete or partial loss of smell. It can happen from nasal polyps, head injuries, hypothyroidism, diabetes, head or neck radiation therapy, or a physical nose abnormality. Temporary anosmia may also develop from upper respiratory infections, cold, or allergies. Some people are born with anosmia.2

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3. Women Have A Stronger Sense Of Smell

9 Interesting Facts About The Sense Of Smell

Females are extremely sensitive to different scents. They can detect odors much better than males, especially during ovulation. Because of this strong ability, females are also more likely to feel nauseous from offensive chemicals and aromas.3

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4. It Declines With Age

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The ability to smell is best during the ages 30 and 60 years old. After 60, the sense becomes less accurate and precise.4 About 25 percent of men (and 11 percent of women) ages 60 to 69 have issues.5 By the time elders hit 80 years old, 62 to 80 percent of them would have practically lost their ability.6

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5. Smell Controls Appetite

9 Interesting Facts About The Sense Of Smell

When your brain recognizes a food-related scent, your body starts to prepare itself. The digestive system releases gastric acid and insulin to get ready for the impending meal. Even your mouth will start

to salivate more. No wonder your stomach grumbles when you walk by a bakery.7

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6. Smell Determines Flavor

9 Interesting Facts About The Sense Of Smell

Roughly 80 percent of a food’s flavor is from its scent. So your sense of smell will directly impact your taste! It also helps make food more enjoyable by enhancing your interest in eating.8

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7. You Can’t Smell While Sleeping

9 Interesting Facts About The Sense Of Smell

Waking up from the smell of coffee might sound nice, but it isn’t possible. Your sense of smell goes to sleep when you do. This is because your cognition and awareness aren’t active during this time. Instead, hearing is the only sense that continues to function while

you sleep.9

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8. A Unique Memory System On Its Own

9 Interesting Facts About The Sense Of Smell

Your brain remembers odors differently than visual or verbal material. They’re extremely easy to recognize, so they’re much harder to forget. Research has also shown that odor memory isn’t changed by later experiences, unlike other senses. Plus, the formation of the memory isn’t made at a conscious level.10

To protect your sense of smell, use a humidifier to stop drying out your nose. You can smell things better when it’s healthy and moist. It’s also a good idea to exercise and avoid smoking if you want to safeguard your smell.