5 Amazing Facts About Your Sense of Smell

sense of smell

The nose is more than a placeholder for glasses. It’s the center for breathing, which sustains physical and mental health, and the sense of smell, which influences emotions, memories and moods. Review incredible facts about your sense of smell as featured in Everyday Health.

1. One trillion odors – Ever find that some friends and family members notice smells that you don’t? That’s because every person smells things differently, and not everyone has the same odor-detecting cells in their noses.

  • Odors entering the nose travel to the smell nerves in the olfactory cleft located at the top of the nasal cavity. Odorants are detected by nerve receptors and travel to the brain where the smells are interpreted.
  • Researchers believe people can detect at least 1 trillion different odors.

2. Renewable odor cells – Scent cells are the only cranial nerves that regenerate. Every 30 to 60 days new odor cells are created.

3. Women can smell better than men – It’s easier for women to identify scents than men. Scientists say that’s because the orbital prefrontal region of women’s brains is more developed than men’s.

4. Age-related loss of smell – It’s common for people to experience some loss of smell as they age. However, a study reported in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Services (2013) showed that Hispanics and African Americans experience loss of smell at an earlier age than Caucasians. Scientists believe genetics and the environment may be contributing factors.

  • Loss of smell may result in a loss of taste.
  • The inability to detect scents may indicate a loss of brain cell function, which can be a sign of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Loss of smell may be a predictor of death within five years.

5. Dogs have stronger scent cells – Canines have 220 million odor-detecting cells, compared to humans who have 5 to 6 million.


NIH News in Health
Smart Living Network
The New York Times

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