It’s been known that such problems could occur after a major concussion. But this study found it’s also true for minor concussions caused by accidents such as falling off a bike with a helmet on, having a traffic fender-bender, falling on the ski slopes, or slipping on ice and hitting your head.
“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 lead author Fanny Lecuyer Giguere. She did the research as part of her doctoral thesis in neuropsychology at the University of Montreal.
The study included 20 people who suffered minor concussions and a “control group” of 22 people who broke limbs but had no concussion.
Within 24 hours of their injury, just over half of the patients with mild concussions had a reduced sense of smell, compared with 5% of the patients with broken bones, the Canadian researchers found.
A year later, the concussion patients’ sense of smell had returned to normal (most within six months), but their rate of anxiety (65%) was considerably higher than in the control group, the findings showed.