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Can’t Smell or Taste? Here’s What to Do.

Many of our posts talk about awesome ways to caress the senses with lovely colors, music and scents. However, it’s almost impossible to appreciate the benefits of these sensual stimulants if you have no perception of them.

This post is for our goddesses who can’t smell or taste.

First a small definition: Your sense of taste is located on your tongue. Tastes include salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami*. Flavors are what allow us to differentiate one food from another such as a lemon from a lime. When you say can’t smell or taste, you probably mean you can’t smell or know the flavor of foods.

*Umami is a Japanese word loosely translated into “delicious.” It comes from a receptor on your tongue that is responsive to organic compounds like glutamate like that found in meat and in MSG flavor.


Why you can’t smell or taste

There are a variety of reasons including:

  • Injury to your head
  • Medications
  • Sinus problems including allergies
  • Respiratory infections
  • Smoking
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Chemical exposure
  • Dental problems
  • Nasal polyps and tumors
  • Brain tumors
  • Depression – Studies indicate the cause is an autoimmune response
  • Age – Usually associated with diminished sense of smell and flavor.
  • Diabetes
  • Genetics

Here’s what to do when you can’t smell or taste

Step 1

  • The first thing to do is figure out why you are suffering from anosmia (loss of smell). Sometimes it will be obvious sometimes not so much.
  • If you get a cold or suffer from nasal allergies, you may well lose your sense of smell or taste until the cold goes away or the allergy situation is resolved. Also, just as a word of warning, you can permanently lose or diminish your sense of smell and taste (flavor) with persistent nasal infections.
  • If you fall down and bump your head. You may lose your sense of smell. How long before you get it back is determined by the extent of nerve damage.
  • If you smoke and notice the roses don’t have near the aroma they used to, in addition to the many other reasons, you may want to quit.
  • If you’re on a medication, check with your doctor to see if that might be the problem.
  • If you find the scent of your perfume isn’t as intense as it once was or food doesn’t taste quite the same, you may be suffering from a treatable medical condition. It’s time to see your doctor.

Step two

Once you’ve identified why you can’t smell or taste, the treatment might be obvious. You quit smoking, change medications, clear up your allergy symptoms, treat nasal infections, etc.

In addition, there are some things to help improve your sense of smell. They include:

  • Take 200 mg lipoic acid three times a day. One study showed marked taste and smell improvement in a human trial.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Humidify the air in your home in the winter
  • Keep your nose unblocked with nasal spray
  • Wear your seatbelt to avoid head injuries
  • Avoid really bad odors, they numb your sense of smell

Important note – Don’t take Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel or Nasal Swab. These two products have been associated with anosmia.


If you are a goddess who has lost her sense of smell and there’s little chance of getting it back or you are waiting for it to come back, there is still much to make your spa day a great experience. You can enjoy the wonderful effects of music and colors. And don’t forget that oh so soothing bath and the luxurious softness of your towels and linens.

Now go have fun and relax.


169 Comments on Can’t Smell or Taste? Here’s What to Do.

  1. Guest

    I lost my sense of smell and taste almost 2 years ago. Had surgery for removal of nasal polyps about 12 months ago but it made no difference to my anosmia. I am desperate and cannot understand why I cannot get cured when medicine and doctors are successfully treating desperate conditions that not so long ago were killing people…I have spent a lot of money visiting ENT Specialists who seem to submit me to all sorts of tests,scans,mri’s,nasal photographic investigative sessions – all of which have cost me a huge amount of money for absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, I have formed the opinion that I am being financially bled without an ounce of hope in sight. Surely, is it that difficult an issue to treat? Do I have any hope left? I would sell my soul to the devil to regain my two senses and be able to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures – nice cup of coffee, a beautiful mango or simply a nicely prepared dinner.i am 57 years old, male and my nose always seems to be producing mucous and affecting my ears with unbearable pain and discomfort as well as compromised hearing.this has always been so, even when I was being probed and x rayed by the specialists – before and after the surgery. Whatever treatment provided never stopped this problem. I also had close on 35 sessions of acupuncture administered by my very own G P at his suggestion – but apart from the effect of the heavy cost involved , nothing came out of it in terms of treating my anosmia.
    Please help as I am now absolutely distressed by the condition now.
    Ps – I have also been put on Prednisone, Nasonex, antibiotics, two types of drops prepared by a compounding chemist,Nasal irrigation, Inhalation, slept with a room humidifier, tried the Apple cider vinegar treatment, drops of Castor oil in the nostrils – none of this has made an ounce of difference either.
    I am prepared to try ANYTHING NOW.
    Many thanks and I will be eagerly watching for an answer.. Cheers.

    • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

      Hi there Guest,

      So sorry you’re having such a time of it. First let me say I I think you’re ENT specialist is being very thorough. You want that in a doctor. I take it that s/he has found nothing abnormal outside of the polyps.

      It sounds like your doctors are now treating the symptoms without actually finding the cause. I’m assuming they cultured and did the blood work to rule out a chronic infection. You didn’t mention whether you have been tested for allergies, one of the most common causes of chronic sinusitis and chronic rhinitis.

      I’m no doctor, but if it were me, I’d want to know what the cause of my chronic runny nose (rhinitis). I would research these two terms online: “chronic rhinitis” and “chronic sinusitis”. I would also search for the terms “chronic rhinitis research” and “chronic sinusitis research”.

      While I was investigating, I’d avoid nasal sprays and cortisone treatments. In your case, they don’t seem to help anyway and they have been associated with permanent anosmia.

      To get you started, I’ve included a couple of links to sources I have found to be reliable in the past. I’m also not shy about calling researchers with questions.

      This helpful article appeared in the Chicago News Tribune:

      From John Hopkins, I found this interesting article complete with the contact information for the researcher. Apparently, standard allergy tests may turn up negative, but an allergen may still be the culprit. In this case allergen specific tests are needed.

      This information is on the Mayo Clinic website:

      If you need additional help with your research, let me know and I’ll step up. We don’t like our friends to have problems.

      Love you,

      Mama Vic

    • Guest

      Hi I have the exact same and am looking for help

      Have you had any luck since this post

  2. Guest

    I lost sense of smell and taste almost a week now due to heavy flu runny nose and fever after I eat salty food before my sense of taste gone I try to take fruits and vitamins but not working and still not coming back after that my period follow after is there a way on how to bring back my senses?

  3. Guest

    i have never smelt anything!

  4. Guest

    Just had surgery last week on the 5th and now I can’t smell or taste anything,I wish I would of read this stuff before my surgery also the doctor should of said something bout losing you’re sense of smell and taste this is kinda bull shit on his part all they care bout getting there money and having these headaches in the back of the brain is not feeling good at all,any movement makes theses sharp pains

    • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

      Hey there Guest,

      If I were you, I wouldn’t be angry with my doctor until I had the full story. I would start by calling my doctor to discuss all of my symptoms including the headaches, lack of sense of smell and any other symptoms I may have.

      Symptoms will tell the doctor if there is anything to be concerned about. It might be that the symptoms are expected and will go away with time.

      If I wasn’t satisfied with the answers I got from my doctor, I would then get a second opinion from another physician.

      Be sure and get back to let us know how you’re doing.

  5. Guest

    I am a foodie and yes i bumped my head against the wall but my CT scans and MRI have been normal. After consulting many doctors,ENTs and neurobiologists who couldnt determine the cause and even the cure and left it to fate and some vitamins . The last doctor is telling it may be because of dried up nasal linings..
    Its been more than 6 months and the smell is like a sweet foul smelling thing and the food tastes horrible and i have opted for a healthy diet and drinking bitter gourd juice and taking meds from my current doctor and also putting drops of PURE cow’s ghee inside my nostrils two to three drops.
    please help and advice.
    I have no sinus or sinus allergy.its been chekced out and no brain tumor

    • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

      How soon after the bump on the head did you have problems?

      • Guest

        Thank you for your reply..
        The smell started to appear after about 2 weeks of the very slight bump ,the bump was in fact on the back of the head and vomitting followed it. And I used to smoke and to be honest I do smoke occasionally around 2 cigareettes in two days. I am aware i should quit.
        My current and last doctor is telling me that it has nothing to do with my head and most probably due to dried nose lining. I recently got my full health checkup including everything like ultrasonography,ECG,urine and stool,Liver and yes all the previous tests of CT and MRI.
        I am 26 years old and after these months there is improvement in terms of less foul smelling to almost no smelling but there is no extra smell.
        Waiting eagerly for your reply sir.
        Thank you

        • Guest

          I do have the basic taste like salty,sweet,bitter and umami.

          • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

            Those are your taste receptors located on your tongue. So, it is not surprising that you can taste. As for the sense of smell, give it time to return. It sounds like your doctor is pretty thorough and will also want to know the cause of the problem if it doesn’t return. When I lost my sense of smell due to a virus infection, it took almost a year for things to return to normal. However, if your sense of smell doesn’t return, go back to the doctor and tell him or her that you aren’t going away until s/he determines the cause. Don’t be intimidated by the white coat.

            Be sure and report back here and let us know how you’re doing.

          • Guest

            I can’t believe you’re not playing with meth–at was so helpful.

  6. Guest

    Mines only been gone for a day. I can’t smell anthing even when I spray every perfume I have. its really annoying. the words thing is I van still taste things. Help?! And how long Will it last. I haven’t really had a cold but I went swimming and came back I my nose was stopped up.. soon I couldn’t smell at all even though I blew my nose and sneeze who knows how many times. oh and my eyes won’t stop watering. :(:(((( help????

    • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

      Hi there Guest,
      If I had to guess, and that’s what I’m doing, I would think the chemicals in the pool might be your problem. When I go swimming in a highly chlorinated pool, it messes with my sense of smell too. For me, the problem resolves in a few hours. It might take a bit longer for you.

      • Guest

        Hi I’m 49 year old an loss my sinis of smell about a year an a half ago I try antibiotic peiszion nasonex steroids the rinsing the nose still no luck so this year I decided to go see a ent doctor he sent me for a cat scan an found out I had an infection in my right nostril so on May 5 2015 I had surgery now it July still blowing my nose my nose still sore when I blow I had a really bad nose bleed that scared me half to death I went to the hospital the doctor gave m something to stop the nose bleed I was very thankful the doctor clean our my nose a week later I went to see my ent he said my nose was looking good an clean out my right nostril I am to the point were I want another Ent doctor to see me I am a smoker so I no that play a lot n my nose used to hurt so bad were my teeth an gum were sore so I did the most stupidest thing n my life I got all my front teeth pull to stop the pain I no stupid mistake now I have denture an boy do that suck but my teeth or gums don’t hurt anymore I was wondering does that castoil n the nostril really work or that zinc or smelling a pinion or galactic really help somebody pls help I am about to have a nervous break down

        • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

          Hi there Guest,
          So sorry for your sinus problems. If it was me, I would make a timeline list of when the symptoms started and all medications used. I would present my ENT with that at my next visit and ask him or her why the problem persists. Simply telling you everything is fine when it clearly isn’t is not satisfactory. If I didn’t get satisfactory answers I’d find myself a new doctor.

  7. Guest

    I have bronchitis and it turned into an upper respiratory infection, the doctor is treating me with a strong antibiotic and the coughing has settled down about 50%, which is more fantastic than you can imagine. He also gave me cough syrup with codeine but I have only taken it 2 times. My sense of smell and taste has been gone for about 3 days now and it is annoying me so much especially the smell, yikes. Any advice on what I can do, this is really driving me crazy, thanks.

    • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

      Hi there Guest,

      I know it’s terribly annoying when you lose your sense of smell. It sounds like your body is still wrestling with the bug. Give it time and in all likelihood your sense of smell will return. In the meantime, take good care of yourself so your body can heal quickly.

      • Guest

        I had bronchitus amonth and a half aho. Still can’t smell or taste anything I am hoping to gind some help on here.

        • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

          Sometimes it takes a long time. Be patient. You can help your body heal by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and getting enough exercise.

        • Guest

          I had bronchitis the same time frame as you did. I lost my sense of smell and taste for about the same length of time. The taste eventually came back but I could only taste strong tasting things and not subtle things – like the subtle taste of eggs, or snow crab legs or celery was lost. I again got bronchitis/sinus infection just this week and again can’t smell or taste anything. It’s soon frustrating. I now smell this gross livery smell around everything – bananas, cookies, etc. It’s so gross. I’ve tried a neti-pot but to no avail. Not sure what to try next. I feel your pain!!

  8. Guest

    so uhm look here. I have a cat in my house, I always kiss her and sometime’s her hair get stuck to my nose, I had this incident’s during my cold.
    Runny Nose
    (i drank lots of medicine to calm my nose so i wont have the cold, but it never work’s runny nose for just a day, since i sneezed so loudly)
    Coughing, heart ache, my mind felt a lot dizzy.
    and now this: whenever i gulp it tastes so disugsting. -.- i sniff and than gulp, it’s so fricking nasty, dude.

    • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

      Hi there Guest,

      Yep, cat hairs can make it up your nose as they’re very fine. Is that why you think you started to sneeze?

      Anyway, a really nasty taste can mean a sinus infection. I would suggest a visit to your physician. An antibiotic might be in order.

      Good luck and get well fast.

      P.S. Say hi to your cat from all of us here at SFS.

  9. Guest

    I am suffering from cough, sore throat and runny nose-the problem is even though I tried unblocking my nose by blowing it,I still cannot smell ):,is it common?

    • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

      Hello there Guest,

      Yep, it’s common. Blowing your nose won’t help. Your body needs to rid itself of the cold. Take good care of yourself so your body can rid itself of the bug faster.

  10. Guest

    I had sinus surgery about 5 days ago and haven been able to smell and can only taste basic flavors, the Dr didn’t tell me that I would lose these senses! I call his office today and they informed me that its normal and they should return! I’m very upset had I know I was going to lose these senses I wouldn’t have gotten the surgery! Your opinion please, and what if they never return?

    • SpaFromScratch SpaFromScratch

      Hi there Guest,

      Surgery can mess with your body in strange ways. If I were in your shoes, I would trust what your surgeon says, he or she has seen it before with other patients.

      One thing you don’t want to do is allow yourself to stress over this. Stress can have a negative affect on healing. Instead assume your sense of smell will return soon. Be patient.

  11. Guest

    I had a bad flu and cough a month ago. I m fine now but cant taste anything. I also smoke. But it never happened before that flu and cough. What should I do.?

  12. Guest

    I can confirm that Zicam does take away sense of taste. It burned my tongue when I took it and I couldn’t taste for a week (everything tasted metallic like licking metal..that is what it was like for me anyway.)

    I warned people about Zicam before and they just scoffed at me. When I tried to contact the company at the time I was ignored.

    I ate canned aloe vera for a week and thank god my taste returned. It took awhile to heal though.

    Please do not risk anything with stupid “supplements” not regulated well by the FDA.

  13. Guest

    I used afrin nasal spray for a year. I noticed about 5 months ago that everything smelled and tasted much different (almost everything smells/tastes horrible to me). I have stopped using afrin and haven’t touched it in about 5 weeks. I still use flonase at night as prescribed by my dr. Is my normal sense of smell/taste gone for good? Will it come back eventually? I can’t find any info about this online and my dr seems clueless.

  14. Guest

    I had a stuffy nose and was sneezing all yesterday. I can’t taste my food (I LOVE FOOD) and I can’t smell a thing!!! I took Claritin D 24 hours yesterday evening and I my nose isn’t stopped up, I just can’t smell or taste any of my foods. Help!

  15. Guest


    I had the cold/flu back to back for a few week however my sense of smell is not heightened meaning I can smell and taste but only up close ie. Only if I put it to my nose wondering if I am losing or gaining smell

  16. Guest

    I am 85 years old. My sense of smell has steadily deteriorated for the last 20 years and now I can’t smell anything. I also started losing my sense of taste about five years ago and presently I am unable to taste only very heavily flavored foods. I can taste the differences between sweet and bitter but that’s about it. I am a heavy smoker, have been for 70 years and quitting is probably not realistic. I would like to know just how smoking damages these senses and why, for years, I suffered no ill effects at all. Lately, it seems, that everything from hangnails to you name it is attributed to smoking. Also, what about dentures?, I have a full upper denture. I’ve read that dentures affect your ability to taste, that doesn’t make sense either if your taste buds are in your tongue.

  17. Guest

    When I was 25 years old my boyfriend at that time beat me up, hitting me in the head several times. I lost my sense of smell and taste shortly after. I’m 45 now. Can’t smell or taste anything. My olfactory nerve has been severed, its the only nerve in your body thst can heal itself. I don’t expect it to happen.

  18. Guest

    Went to the doctor when I was 15 as never been able to smell, they did lots of checks and had no idea. Now 22, still the same, guess it’s one of those weird things may never find out, although it is not overly annoying, however I do enjoy cooking, so it’s a bit rubbish not being able to taste it, but hey, life could be worse off! Atleast I got a pair of eyes!

  19. Guest

    I know that I had a bad cold of 2 years but till that period my smelling sense was normal but when I recovered from bad cold I realized that I was lossing my smelling sense day by day & now it’s been 5 years of losing smelling sense completely, is there any chances of regaining the sense back???

  20. Guest

    I had a cold and got a stuffy nose and I used Afrin to clear it up but everytime it goes away I have to
    keep using Afrin or my nose will get stuffy again so ive been using it for awhile now. After I use it I can taste and smell but all of the sudden I cant taste or smell amd my nose is stuffy. I dont know whats
    wrong or if I have something I need to go get checked out.

  21. Guest

    A few weeks ago after I finished work, I got home and had some dinner, I realised the food tasted very bland. I immediately started smelling things, and had realised my sense of smell was absent. The next morning it was back and I could smell and taste again. It does this every so often. At night or late evening it would be gone, but by the next morning it would come back. Not idea why this is happening, sometimes it’s absent for longer, and sometimes not for as long. It’s kind of distressing when it happens. Any idea on what’s going on? I haven’t had time to go to the doctors yet, but planning on it if it doesn’t get better soon. Thanks 🙂

  22. Guest

    I had a small head cold about 5 days ago. It called my head up for a good day or two. My nose is pretty much clear it out but I haven’t been able to snow or taste anything in the last 4 days. It’s literally depressing and driving Me crazy. I never had this happen for longer than a day.

    • Guest

      Hope It has come back. I’m going on two months with limited sense of smell and virtually no sense of taste following a flu. Talk about depressing. I’m thinking of just consuming protein drinks. I’ve lost 15 lbs (which is actually good). Food went through a period of tasting utterly disgusting. A cloying salty sweet fatty taste I can’t even describe accompanied anything I ate. Now it’s just no taste. My what fun! Just grateful to be otherwise functioning and feeling better but the simple pleasures would be nice to enjoy again.

  23. Guest

    Thobile. I have started a diet last year in September and in December it when I started noticing that I can’t smell and taste I went to the Doctor it didn’t help because I’m still having the same problem and I also have sinus I’m nt sure maybe it the sinus and now always feel like vomiting and the always a funny smell from my mouth every morning when I wake-up I wash my mouth with warm water and viniga every day please help.

  24. Guest

    My Husband lost his taste and smell since 2010 and he still hasn’t got it back yet. We still don’t know what to do. He has gain weight since then.

  25. Guest

    I had a cold last Wednesday and lost my sense of smell and taste but I got it back again and now I’ve lost them again for a few days and I don’t know why and I’m getting a bit worried in case somethings wrong and it doesn’t come back quick enough, what should I do?

  26. Guest

    Thank you very much. Hope my taste and smell comes back soon.

  27. Guest

    Had nasal polyps for four years then had surgery 2 years ago, no longer can taste food or smell it is really annoyoing. No longer enjoy meals, can’t smell perfume, freshly cut grass or cook meals as can no longer taste test. What is the answer????

  28. Guest

    I can’t smell, taste, or hear out of one ear because of a cold, I’m getting really nervous