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What is the cause of loss of taste and smell is a major question which most people are craving to know the answer, probably because it is believed that the sudden loss of smell and/or taste is a presenting symptom of COVID-19.1
In this article, you’ll learn the symptoms, causes and treatment/how to regain your sense of smell and taste.
Ageusia and Anosmia which are the loss of sense of taste and loss of sense of smell respectively
may cause you to detect a bad odor or taste from something that is normally pleasant to taste or smell. These disorders can affect the quality of life. They may also be a sign of underlying disease.
Problems with taste and smell can suggest certain health problems, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Poor nutrition
- Nervous system diseases, such as:
- Parkinson disease
- Alzheimer disease
- Multiple sclerosis2
What Are The Symptoms Of Loss Of Taste And Smell
Symptoms can range from not being able to smell or taste at all to the reduced ability to smell or taste specific things that are sweet, sour, bitter or salty. In some cases, normally pleasant tastes or smells may become unpleasant.
What Is The Cause Of Loss Of Taste And Smell
Some people are born with these disorders, but most are caused by:
- Illness (for example, cold or flu, sinus infection, COVID-191 and allergies)
- Head injury
- Hormone changes
- Dental or mouth problems
- Nasal polyps
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Certain medicines
- Exposure to radiation therapy for head or neck cancer
- Cocaine snorted through the nose
- Cigarette smoking2
It’s also common to lose some of your sense of smell and/or taste as you get older.
How Do You Regain Your Sense Of Smell
Treatment depends on the cause. If the loss of smell occurs with a cold, allergy, or sinus infection, it typically will clear up on its own in a few days. You should consult your doctor if the anosmia doesn’t clear up once the cold or allergy symptoms have subsided.
Treatments that may help resolve anosmia caused by nasal irritation include:
- steroid nasal sprays
- antibiotics, for bacterial infections
- reducing exposure to nasal irritants and allergens
- cessation of smoking
Loss of smell caused by nasal obstruction can be treated by removing whatever is obstructing your nasal passage. This removal may involve a procedure to remove nasal polyps, straighten the nasal septum, or clear out the sinuses.
Older people are more susceptible to losing their sense of smell permanently.
There is no treatment currently available for people with congenital anosmia.
People with a partial loss of their sense of smell can add concentrated flavoring agents to food to improve their enjoyment.3
A treatment called smell training can also help some people. To find out more about smell training, see:
How Do You Regain Your Sense Of Taste
Determination of the etiological factor is necessary to treat ageusia. Some taste disorders do not require any treatment as they resolve spontaneously. There is no particular therapeutic regime for a taste disorder like ageusia.
If it is chemotherapy-induced, it is potentially reversible by the cessation of the use of offending medication.
However, discontinuation of drugs to treat the taste disorder is not always possible in patients, particularly with life-threatening conditions such as cancer, diabetes mellitus, and uncontrolled infections.4
Treating the underlying condition that causes your impaired sense of taste can help restore your taste. Bacterial sinusitis, salivary glands, and throat infections can be treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms of colds, flu, and allergic rhinitis that impact taste may be relieved with decongestants or antihistamines. Once you are feeling better, your sense of taste will most likely return quickly.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to minimize the effects of a nervous system disorder or an autoimmune disease that causes impaired taste.5
Supplements are an option, such as zinc gluconate, particularly in patients undergoing radiotherapy/chemotherapy in the dosage of 140mg/day or alpha-lipoic acid in the dosage of 600 mg/day for few months may restore taste.4
Can kissing an infected person cause ageusia? see this: Some Dangerous Mouth Diseases You Can Get By Kissing
The senses of taste and smell are closely linked. The flavors in food can be tasted because of a combination of your ability to smell and taste.
In some cases, your taste buds may be functioning just fine, but your sense of smell is the problem. Your doctor might send you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist, called an otolaryngologist, to determine if you have a smell disorder.