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Have had bronchitis, coughing phlegm, no fever, anosmia. Will stress make it worse? Will my sense of smell return?

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Practicing since : 2001
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Hello- I have had bronchitis for about a month, with some coughing up of phlegm each day, mostly in the mornings. For the first couple of weeks, I felt fine otherwise, and I thought it would clear up on its own. During the past couple of weeks, I’ve had head, nasal, and ear congestion and pressure along with the bronchitis. I’ve also felt weak and fatigued, but with no fever. I’ve been traveling and haven’t been able to see a doctor locally, which I have an appointment for this week. The bronchitis/cough is actually getting some better, but my main concern right now is that I have lost my ability to smell. It started lessening about a week ago, and is almost totally gone now. Everything I eat has little or no taste because of this. Searching the web has mentioned that loss of smell, or anosmia, could happen after an upper respiratory infection. My worry right now is that it could be permanent, which is mentioned on some medical forums/websites. Is it likely that my sense of smell will return after the infection goes away? Is a permanent loss after an upper respiratory infection rare? I can deal with the other symptoms, but the worry and stress about this is really getting to me. Just looking for some reassurance, based on my symptoms. Thanks for any help.
Posted Wed, 20 Jun 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Rakhi Tayal 2 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
Loss of smell after an upper respiratory infection is a common finding. Once the infection clears up, the congestion in your airways will decrease, the heaviness in your head, nose and ears will gradually lessen and the sense of smell will return. This loss is not permanent.
The best treatment for clearing the congested sinuses is steam inhalation. Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot (but not boiling water) may help to soften, and loosen, the buildup of mucus. You may also find that adding some menthol crystals, or eucalyptus oil, to the water helps a lot. Other than that, avoid eating indigestible, spicy, foods and meats and eat simple wholesome foods. Out-of-door exercise, sunbaths also help a lot.
Please do not worry. All these symptoms will clear off gradually over next 2-3 weeks.
Hope this answers your query. I will be glad to answer the follow up queries that you have.
Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.
Wishing you good health.
Dr. Rakhi Tayal.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have had bronchitis, coughing phlegm, no fever, anosmia. Will stress make it worse? Will my sense of smell return? 13 hours later
Thanks for your answer. What has had me concerned is that my nasal congestion is some better and I can breathe easily through my nose, but I still have no sense of smell. I'm hoping that will come back.
Answered by Dr. Rakhi Tayal 57 minutes later
Thanks for writing again.
Although you are symptomatically better but the congestion inside the sinuses takes some time to subside. Please do not worry. The smell will return in next 2-3 weeks with regular steam inhalation.
Hope my answer is helpful.
Do accept my answer in case there are no further queries.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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