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HealthGlobal issues

My body, My Sense of Smell - When You Can't Smell Anything

May 17, 2024

Not being able to perceive your own or your partner's scent - a dramatic loss. Many people have experienced this for a short time due to Covid. But some people face the condition permanently. How do they live with it?

My body, My Sense of Smell - When You Can't Smell Anything
The sense of smell is the most immediate of the human senses.Image: BR

Our sense of smell has long been underestimated. No wonder -- after all, many people only perceive it subliminally and not consciously. Yet there is no scent-free space in our world. But since Covid-19 and the symptoms of loss of smell and taste, many people have begun to realize just how important smell is in our lives. 

My body, My Sense of Smell - When You Can't Smell Anything
The nerve cells flow into the olfactory bulb, the transition to the brain.Image: BR

Our sense of smell is the oldest sense we have. Not only the enjoyment of our food, but also our memories, emotions and social interactions are influenced by it. The loss of the sense of smell, or ‘anosmia’, significantly impairs people's experience of the world.

In this documentary, people talk about their lives without smell. Take 31-year-old Sandra Maurer, who has been unable to smell since a coronavirus infection in 2021. Patients like Sandra suffer a great deal. She talks about how she copes and what treatment options are available. 

My body, My Sense of Smell - When You Can't Smell Anything
Sandra Maurer lost her sense of smell due to a coronavirus infection.Image: BR

There is another change in smell that many people have experienced since coronavirus: ‘parosmia’, or distorted smell. Lisa Horn experienced this. She explains how it affected her life when coffee suddenly smelled like faeces and even brushing her teeth and eating became a pain. 

But what if you've never been able to smell before? Lauren Ramoser only noticed at the age of 11 in chemistry class that the strong-smelling acids seemed to smell "corrosive" to her classmates, but that she didn't notice anything herself. How does this affect a person’s life? When does Lauren need help? How can she cook without her sense of smell, which after all determines 80 percent of our taste experience?

My body, My Sense of Smell - When You Can't Smell Anything
Cooking without a sense of smell is a particular challenge.Image: BR

Danish physician and foodie Alexander Wiecke Fjælstad developed a cooking course for people who cannot smell or can no longer smell, together with his chef friend Christian Bøjlund. Lauren Ramoser travels to Aarhus especially for the documentary to take part in this course and undergoes some important self-discovery.

Broadcasting Hours: 

DW English

WED 29.05.2024 – 01:15 UTC
WED 29.05.2024 – 04:15 UTC
WED 29.05.2024 – 18.15 UTC
THU 30.05.2024 – 09:15 UTC
THU 30.05.2024 – 15:15 UTC
THU 30.05.2024 – 21:15 UTC
FRI 31.05.2024 – 12:15 UTC
SAT 01.06.2024 – 02:15 UTC
SUN 02.06.2024 – 08:15 UTC

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