A German study shows people who've lost their sense of smell care less about the funks and fragrances of their surroundings.
While that may not come as a huge surprise, it could help explain why more than eight out of every 10 study participants with loss of smell appeared to cope well with the problem.
That's important because many people have a less-than-perfect sniffer, Dr. Ilona Croy of the University of Dresden Medical School told Reuters Health.
"We see a lot of patients with acquired smell disorders in our 'Smell & Taste' outpatient clinic," she said in an email. "Those patients also come to us because they feel a certain psychological strain."
According to Croy and her colleagues, up to 18 percent of people have a reduced sense of smell, and between four and six percent can't smell anything at all.
The condition is often triggered by viruses, head trauma or sinus infections. Some people complain it lowers their quality of life, making it difficult to cook or reducing appetite, for instance.
And one study has suggested that people value their sense of smell more highly after they've lost it.
But they don't care as much about it as people who have no trouble making out odors, according to the German researchers, whose findings appear in the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.
The researchers studied 235 patients with some loss of smell and asked them to fill out a questionnaire rating the importance they ascribed to smells in their daily lives -- from the memories and emotions evoked to the influence on decision making and the aggravation produced by loss of the sense.
Compared to a group of people with a healthy schnoz, those who had some or total loss of smell rated the capacity as less important across the board.
And 87 percent of the impaired participants said they were only slightly annoyed by the problem. Those who didn't cope as well had more symptoms of depression, and Croy said they might find talk therapy helpful.
"Together with other clinicians, we often had a discussion if patients would focus more on the deficit (...) or adjust toward it," Croy said. "Now we know that the majority of patients adjust to the deficit."