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Severe chemotherapy-induced parosmia

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Background: Smell and taste disorders are among the side effects of chemo- and radiotherapy. Although direct radionecrosis of the salivary glands and the taste buds might explain the chemosensory problems after radiotherapy, the olfactory and gustatory complaints seen after chemotherapy remain unexplained. The patients reporting olfactory symptoms rarely complain about qualitative olfactory disorders such as parosmia or phantosmia. Quantitative olfactory loss such as anosmia and hyposmia seem to be more frequent.

Methods: We present the case of a 63-year-old woman with chemotherapy-induced parosmia leading to severe nutrition and appetite problems resulting in a life-threatening weight loss.

Results: With the aid of a simple nose clip the parosmia could be abolished and oral food intake became possible again. Parosmia resolved gradually over an observation period of 9 months, in parallel to an increase of olfactory sensitivity. The patient progressively gained appetite and weight.

Conclusion: Parosmia can occur as a severe and potentially life-threatening complication of chemotherapy. This rare presentation of parosmia illustrates the importance of olfactory testing with an adequate recognition of the underlying problem and a consecutive treatment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2006

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