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What causes sinus odor?

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Atrophic rhinitis is a condition in which the mucous membrane thins and hardens, which causes the nasal passages to dry out, and the crust that develops causes a foul odor, states Merck Manual. This condition is most common in older people and in those with granulomatosis with polyangiitis.

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When people develop atrophic rhinitis, the cells normally found in the mucous membrane that help remove dirt and other particles are replaced by cells that are more similar to skin cells, explains Merck Manual. If a person undergoes sinus surgery and has mucous membranes removed, this condition likely develops. The condition is also common in people who frequently have bacterial infections in the nose.

To treat atrophic rhinitis, and to decrease crusting and reduce the amount of infections a patient gets, doctors typically prescribe antibiotics, such as bacitracin ointment, that kill bacteria in the nose, notes Merck Manual. Doctors also prescribe an estrogen spray and recommend taking vitamins A and D to reduce the amount of crusting.

Restoring a patient's sense of smell is important because it helps alert him of various dangers, such as smoke from a fire or spoiled food, states the American Rhinologic Society. Sense of smell is also directly related to tasting food and is tied to various social situations.

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