People often take their senses of smell and taste for granted. It is only when they are not able to smell or taste something properly that they realize how important their senses are. Not being able to smell is a condition known as anosmia. Normally, this is a temporary condition induced by a stuffy nose due to flu and cold. Most people can’t taste anything when their nose becomes stuffy. As soon as their cold completes its course, their senses of taste and smell return. However, some people, especially the elderly lose their ability to smell for a long time.
Why Can’t I Taste Anything?
Common cold results in a congested nose. When your nose becomes stuffy, air can no longer flow past your olfactory receptors that means that the compounds of different odors are unable to reach them. Therefore, you aren’t able to smell anything. Your smell and your taste are tightly correlated; when you can’t smell, you probably can’t taste anything. Luckily, this is temporary.
When you are suffering from a smell disorder, you can’t taste anything as well. Your ability to smell helps you easily distinguish a variety of tastes, so when it becomes affected due to nasal polyps, upper respiratory infection, sinus infection or any other smell disorder, then your ability to taste is most likely to become distorted as well. Moreover, taste disorders are also indicators of serious medical conditions such as endocrine disorder, tumor or nutritional deficiency. Though they aren’t that prevalent, still you should consider them in case you can’t taste anything for a long time period.
Here are more commonly occurring causes of different taste disorders:
One of the leading causes is prescription medications. Most of these medicines have the ability to change your sense of taste. Captopril, (mostly sold as Capoten) is a medicine used for treating congestive heart failure and high blood pressure, but its side-effects include changing your ability to taste properly. Antidepressants, anti-inflammatory agents, decongestants, muscle relaxants, medications for high blood pressure, antibiotics and lipid-lowering medicines can also affect your ability to efficiently taste things. Moreover, if you are exposed to chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and paint solvents, then also your taste disorder may get triggered.
Another major cause of taste disorders is oral infections. Gingivitis, oral herpes outbreak, oral yeast infection and periodontitis can result in taste disorders. Using dentures can also at times affect your sense of taste.
I Can’t Taste Anything --What to Do
- To fix your ability to taste temporarily, you need to ensure that you are able to smell. You could take a warm shower/ bath, a decongestant or anything else that could unblock your sinuses.
- Using over-the-counter decongestants can help in opening up the blocked nasal passages, making you breathe conveniently. In case your congestion doesn’t improve after a couple of days, make sure to visit your doctor. You might be seriously infected and would require a proper course of antibiotics.
- Use nasal sprays to keep the nose unblocked.
- In case there is a growth or polyp, then you would need to get operated to get rid of the obstruction for regaining your senses of taste and smell.
- If a drug you are taking is the cause of your inability to taste and smell, then consult your doctor. They might be able to advise you another treatment option. You must not stop your medicine without consulting it with your doctor.
- Drink as much water as possible during the day.
- Avoid smelling or using bad odors that could affect your ability to smell.
- Wear seatbelt while driving to prevent experiencing any head injury.
- Keep the air humid in the home during winters.
Try changing what you eat (advice from others):
According to people who have gone through taste and smell disorders, changing your diet can help you fix these problems. Some people feel better when they eat a mixed textured food. For instance, mixing crackers with a smooth textured dip at times help them taste things better.
Moreover, eating spicy and hot food can also provide you relief from nasal congestion and when the congestion goes away, you are able to taste things better as well. Eating chili, ginger and lime can help you soothe these conditions.
One Patient’s Case and Answer from an Expert
Question: I have been suffering from a smell and taste disorder since February. I consulted my doctor and according to her I had a sinus problem. I started taking medicines for it prescribed by her, but my condition did not improve. I sneeze a lot every morning and white/ clear mucus came out from my nose whenever I sneeze. Thick mucus also gets stuck in my throat’s back at times and comes out with streaks of blood. I am not able to smell anything and can only smell a rotten odor. I have used Sudafed, Mucinex, Zyrtec, neti pots, steam breathing, saline solutions and nose sprays for my issues, but have found no relief from my condition. I am always suffering from headaches. I think I might have nasal polyps. If that’s not my case, then I’d want to undergo a surgery for fixing my problems.
Answer: You should visit a qualified ENT, so they can best diagnose your condition. Make sure to visit them fast because it is difficult to recover the sense of smell once it has been gone for a long time. Your ENT would probably use a tiny camera to observe your throat and nose. This would help them find out in case there is any polyp in your nasal passages. Polyps are often formed due to sino-nasal inflammation and allergies. You would probably have to undergo a surgery to remove a polyp and the surgery costs vary depending on your condition.