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Hypersensitivity to odours 


Each of us probably knows at least one person who is particularly sensitive to odours, and perceives them much more strongly than the rest of the people around him. Overly attentive attention to smells, often indifferent to other people, is one of the symptoms of olfactory hypersensitivity.


Olfactory hypersensitivity, especially when very strong, can make everyday life difficult. And we are not talking about odours commonly considered unpleasant, but ones we encounter every day, such as the smell of cooking food, flowers, wood, etc.


Being hypersensitive to smells can often cause irritation or overexcitement, because smells have a very strong influence on our emotions. Some smells can even cause nausea, such as a strong smell of flowers (I personally can't stand the smell of lilies), or even a vomiting reflex, especially if it is a food smell. Therefore olfactory hypersensitivity can also contribute to food selectivity due to intolerance of specific odours, e.g. the smell of meat or fish. It is very common for olfactory hypersensitive children to block their nose, to report that something smells.


In the case of smell sensitivity the sensory integration therapist usually recommends "de-sensitisation" through smell training, i.e. gradual familiarisation with different smells. For olfactory training it is good to use natural products, e.g. spices, herbs, fresh fruit or vegetables. You can also use fragrance oils, which when properly applied should also contribute to better odour tolerance. It's also a good idea to involve the child in cooking together every day, so that they can get to know and identify with different smells.


Anna Chacińska

special educator, specialist in sensory integration