When a Traumatic Brain Injury Causes You to Lose Your Sense of Smell

Traumatic Brain Injury

Did you know that Traumatic Brain Injury cases that are moderate to severe often worsen after 5 years from the date of the injury? According to data provided by the CDC, about 30% of TBI cases do not improve within that time span.

Moreover, of those people affected some end up losing their sense of smell – a condition known as traumatic anosmia. While a traumatic brain injury (TBI) normally involves a jolt or blow to the head, it may also result from a penetrating brain injury (PBI), such as a gunshot wound to the head.

Therefore, a TBI may affect the victim in one of the various ways. Whether it affects a victim emotionally or cognitively or impacts their sensory abilities, it can have a long-lasting effect – an effect that may last a lifetime.

Physical Conditions

Most TBIs are caused by falling, but they often result from auto crashes or assaults. Some of the physical effects include the following:

  • Problems with sleeping
  • Tiredness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Paralysis
  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of control of bladder or bowel movement
  • Seizures

Cognitive Disorders

Many people, who suffer from a TBI, will have problems with headaches or with focusing. They may suffer from memory problems or confusion. Another condition that develops is perseveration, which is the continual repetition of a gesture or word. 

An Inability to Communicate

TBIs also affect a person’s ability to communicate – problems that lead to difficulties frequently with speech.


For example, a TBI may cause aphasia, which results in difficulties in expressing ideas or reading or writing. This can be broken down to:

  • Receptive aphasia – problems with understanding the spoken word
  • Expressive aphasia – An inability to express what you want to say even though you know or understand what you’re trying to communicate

Some people suffer from slurred speech or may speak slowly or rapidly.

Difficulties with Vision

Other victims suffer from loss of vision, double or blurred vision, or may have problems with nystagmus (involuntary eye movements). Others have an intolerance to light, called photophobia.

Hearing Problems

A TBI may also affect hearing, causing, in some instances, ringing in the ears, tinnitus, or increased sensitivity to sound. 

Social-Emotional Challenges

Victims of TBIs may also suffer social-emotional difficulties, or experience moodiness, irritability, and aggression. 

Difficulties with the Five Senses

If the TBI affects certain areas of the brain, a person may have trouble integrating sensory information gained through the five senses (sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell). 

They may suffer from anosmia, a diminished sense of smell, or a diminished sense of taste.

Problems Detecting Odors

When people are affected by anosmia from a TBI, it affects the area of the brain that detects odors – the olfactory nerve or first cranial nerve that is used to transmit this information from the nose to the brain.

If you lose your sense of smell from damage to the sensory cortex inside the brain, you may experience a partial or full recovery. However, if the loss results from damage to the olfactory nerve, recovery is far less likely.

Trauma and the Olfactory Nerve

Trauma to the olfactory nerve happens when the ethmoid bone in the face, or the bone that divides the top portion of the nasal cavity and the bottom of the eye sockets is fractured.

How This Injury Can Happen

This type of break may occur if the following takes place:

  • Your face hits the steering wheel or dashboard during a vehicular crash
  • Your face is injured after a slip and fall

Why You Need to Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney that Covers TBI Cases

Unfortunately, insurance companies often consider the loss of a sense of smell to be non-life-threatening. However, it still can still dramatically impact how you live your life as well as its quality.

That’s because traumatic anosmia keeps you from smelling certain dangers, such as smoke in a house or certain chemical smells that could be injurious to your health. 

You might not be able to detect a natural gas leak or toxic fumes – both of which can place you or others in peril.

Because your sense of smell is closely associated with your sense of taste, it can also cause problems with eating, leading to malnutrition or an unhealthy loss of weight. 

Once you find out you’ve lost your sense of smell, you need to contact a medical provider who specializes in olfactory dysfunction to get the medical help you need.

Unfortunately, insurance companies or defendants in TBI personal injury claims may still downplay the injury. For them, it’s all about making money or holding onto the cash that increases their profits.

However, losing your sense of smell is indeed significant, as both smell and taste affect how we experience pleasure and joy in life. Therefore, like other TBI conditions, it should never be taken lightly.

Learn More About Your Rights for Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Have you suffered a loss of smell because of a traumatic brain injury? Maybe you have another condition that has resulted from an injury to the brain.

In California, if you have a TBI personal injury claim, you need to act immediately. The statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury. 

If the injury developed after the mishap and you did not discover it right away, you have one year from the discovery date to file your PI claim.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Contact Belal Hamideh to Discuss Your Rights Right Now

Get more information about your rights for a TBI personal injury claim. Call Belal Hamideh Law for a consultation at (562) 526-1224 today.