Thanks To Our Genes We Might Be Losing One Of Our Five Senses

Most people rely on all five senses every day. If you've never experienced a loss of any of these senses, you probably can't imagine what life would be like without them. However, a new study suggests that one sense may be slowly declining (via US News). Published in PLOS Genetics, the study analyzed the genomes of 1,000 Han Chinese people in the United States and China. During the experiments, researchers found variations in receptor genes for certain smells, including underarm odor.

"Genome-wide scans identified novel genetic variants associated with odor perception, providing support for the hypothesis," the researchers said. The findings support the ongoing theory that humans are slowly losing their sense of smell due to gene changes. Previous studies had only been done on Caucasian subjects, so these findings also suggest that smell behaves and changes the same way across all races. This study is nothing to be concerned about for the time being, but interesting information to have.

Other ways you can lose your sense of smell

Gene changes aren't the only thing that can affect our sense of smell. Anosmia, which refers to a partial or complete loss of smell, is a condition that affects many people at some point in their lives (via Healthline). It is usually caused by swelling in the nose that stops odors from fully entering the nose. Conditions that can cause this swelling include sinus infections, colds, the flu, allergies, or chronic congestion. Blockages in the nose can also cause anosmia. These may include tumors, nasal polyps, or bone deformities.

Neurological conditions can also affect your sense of smell. Receptors in the nose send information about smells through nerves to the brain. If any part of the pathway from the nose to the brain is damaged, your sense of smell will be affected. Many factors can contribute to this type of loss of smell including Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, brain tumors, and schizophrenia. Hormonal problems, old age, and certain medications can also cause temporary or permanent loss of smell.