Our Sense of Smell and Our Happiness
In my field as and Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, I obviously work with people who have hearing problems. But there is one of the other "Five Senses" that I deal with -- the sense of smell. And it turns out that this important ability is very closely tied to our brain and even our moods.
As we all know we use our noses to smell odors all around us. The nerve endings are at the very top of each nasal passage. The nerves themselves are very very short and go to the front part of the brain called the limbic system that has direct control of our feeling of well being.This close connection in the brain helps make the relationship between smells and moods, scents and memories, quite strong. For example, the warm scent of vanilla and baking cookies is more likely to provoke a memory than even the taste of the cookie.
And it’s not just smell that triggers memory — just the thought of a pleasant fragrance can improve moods. And the actual smell can have dramatic effects in improving our mood and sense of well-being. Pleasant smells even heighten our perception of people’s attractiveness, and a product’s effectiveness.
Most loss of sense of smell is temporary, related to nasal congestion like a common cold. Longer lasting disturbance may be a sign of chronic sinus infections or nasal polyps. Unfortunately other illnesses such as stroke, dementia and Parkinson's disease can be the cause.
Lastly, a weak sense of smell can be strengthened by frequent stimulation. Smelling small amounts of pleasant essential oils in the palms of your hands helps "exercise" this important part of our well-being.