Ann Occup Environ Med.  2018 ;30(1):18. 10.1186/s40557-018-0230-3.

Work-related olfactory disorder: a case series and review

Affiliations
  • 1Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, 400, Jongga-ro, Jung-gu, Ulsan, 44429 South Korea. cnergy14@gmail.com.
  • 2Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Gyeongsang National University Hospital, Jinju, South Korea.
  • 3Institute of Health Sciences, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, South Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
The olfactory bulb is anatomically exposed and thus can be directly damaged by external stimulation. This can occur as an occupational injury owing to contact with organic solvents or other causes. We present cases of eight patients who sustained occupation-related exposure to potentially toxic substances and later presented with signs and symptoms of anosmia. We examined the occupational and medical characteristics of the patients and evaluated their work-relatedness.
CASE PRESENTATION
Case 1: A 50-year-old man performed high-frequency heat treatments for approximately 11 years. He experienced decreased senses for olfaction and taste during the later years culminating in the diagnosis of anosmia after 3 years (high work-relatedness). Case 2: A 54-year-old man whose work involved exposure to various organic solvents, such as spray painting and application of paint and thinners for approximately 4 years, was subsequently diagnosed with anosmia based on rhinorrhea, headache, and loss of olfaction (high work-relatedness). Case 3: A 44-year-old-man who performed spray painting for approximately 17 years developed anosmia (high work-relatedness). Case 4: A 44-year-old man was involved in ship engine cleaning once a month, for approximately 7 h per cleaning session; he was diagnosed with anosmia based on loss of olfaction (low work-relatedness). Case 5: A 41-year-old man worked in ship building block construction for approximately 13 years; anosmia diagnosis was based on loss of olfaction (low work-relatedness). Case 6: A 47-year-old woman performed product inspection and labeling at a plant manufacturing automobile parts; anosmia diagnosis was based on decreased olfaction and taste (low work-relatedness). Case 7: A 50-year-old woman performed epoxy coating in a plant manufacturing automobile parts; anosmia diagnosis was based on diminishing olfaction (low work-relatedness). Case 8: A 57-year-old woman performed cleaning of the area where mobile phone parts were manufactured; anosmia diagnosis was based on diminishing olfaction (low work-relatedness).
CONCLUSION
The study results confirmed work-relatedness when the subject was young, and the duration of exposure was long without any other cause of anosmia. Regarding compensation for occupational diseases, work-relatedness can be recognized as a relative concept.

Keyword

Olfactory disorder; Occupational disease; Anosmia; Work-relatedness

MeSH Terms

Adult
Automobiles
Cell Phones
Compensation and Redress
Diagnosis
Female
Headache
Hot Temperature
Humans
Middle Aged
Occupational Diseases
Occupational Injuries
Olfaction Disorders
Olfactory Bulb
Paint
Paintings
Plants
Ships
Smell
Solvents
Solvents
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