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Anosmia, the medical term for the loss of the sense of smell, is just one of the many side effects than can result from a brain injury.

Double Olympic medallist James Cracknell has experienced this. Cracknell suffered a serious brain injury after being hit by a petrol tanker while riding his bike in 2010. While he has made a good recovery in many ways, he still lives with some of the symptoms, including a near total loss of smell and taste, and claims to eat food purely for survival.

Many people who report a loss of the sense of taste, known as ageusia, may have actually lost their sense of smell instead, as smell is thought to be responsible for 80% of the flavours we taste. The impact of the loss can be huge, with many people feeling depressed as they can no longer enjoy their food, but also because the sense of smell is linked to emotional ties, such as home, family and everyday life.

Professor Barry C Smith, co-director and founder of the Centre for the Study of the Sense, said “Smell is such an underrated sense. Losing it doesn’t just take the enjoyment out of eating, no place or person smells familiar anymore. It is also closely linked to memory. Losing that emotional quality to your life is incredibly had to deal with’.

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Read more about the symptoms of a brain injury here

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