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.

Conclusion

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.

260 thoughts on “Can’t Smell or Taste? Here’s What to Do.

  1. I had flu a month ago. Eversince I can’t smell or taste anything. Its so frustrating. I think I’m also gaining weight because I’m now eating more. And I hate it please HELP. I would love to smell again and taste my food.

  2. I’m sick and I can’t smell or taste but it’s slowly regaining.

    I WOULD HATE IT if I lost my sense of taste and smell 🙁
    Sorry to all suffering from this.

    I can’t wait for my flu and cold to go away ?????

  3. Hi I cant taste or smell now for two and a half weeks now and also have a severe cough during the night need advise and help.

  4. I lost of sense of taste about 9 month ago, its very frustrating…. Started with a severe canker sore on the underneath of my tongue, then my tongue became covered in a white film (not yeast, although treated for it) it felt as if everything was burning my tongue, I was miserable, its almost as if I burned my taste buds right off my tongue… finally after months of waiting my tongue now doesn’t seem to be enlarged or have a film anymore, but I still can’t taste. I can smell most things, but not taste, everything is bland… I have been to several doctors and ENT’s they 1st don’t have a clue what caused it or why this is happening, and say that my next step is an MRI… its expensive and I’m sure why I would want to waste my time. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Libby

    1. Do you think the infection may have damaged the nerves on your tongue? You might want to ask your doctor if that’s a possibility.

    2. I had an MRI for the same reason (not being able to taste or smell for almost 5 months after a bad head and chest cold.

      It cannot detect nerve damage (which is what my doctor told me probably has happened) but it does detect infection or if there is a tumor or some other growth present.

  5. I have had a bad cold for 3 wks was mainly my nose now I carnt smell and food tastes bland it making me worried

    1. That seems like quite a long time to have a cold. Once I had one like that and it was because I was anemic. A simple blood test is all it takes. If I were you, I would see my physician.

  6. I’ve had nasal polyp surgery three years ago. I have been using fluticazone after the surgery every day. It took about six to seven months to regain my taste and smell, but only about 30%. I switched to nasonex, my taste started to fade. I would get up every morning stuffy and if i don’t use nasonex, i could not breath (had asthma in the past). A couple of months ago, I stopped using nasonex for a month. I started having breathing issues,so I went back to using it again but once every three to for days. I noticed some wheezing in my chest. I went to the store and bought some medicine for coughing (max strength), about 6 oz bottle, cost me $3. I have been taking it two to three times a day (tea spoon.) One day, I swear to God, I started tasting everything, my wheezing went away, I can taste my coffee which I did not know how it tasted for years. The other thing I am doing is, rinsing my mouth with hydrogen peroxide and water (50/50) twice a week for my teeth. I do not know what did it? is it stopping the nazonex for a month, is it the cough medicine, is it the 50/50 peroxide…I am thinking maybe the cough medicine, because I can breath better and I do not need nazonex to breath. I take it now once a week only. I also use saline solution every morning to clear my nostrils. I hope this helps, and I do know how you feel when you can’t enjoy one of God’s wonderful favors he gave us. Sincerely, Ahmed El.

  7. I can’t smell or teast anything at all got hay fever and the flu or a cold what makes me think it’s flu is the body aching with cold like symptoms I do smoke and suffer from depression I do think the government and there chemtrails sprying chemicals in the sky is part of it so what can do ?? .

  8. My name is Julie i had acdf surgery FEBRUARY 16TH 2017 SINUS INFECTION RIGHT AFTER I CAN NOT SMELL HERE IS AN OPTION ESSENTIAL OILS AT WALGREENS i HAVE TO TRAIN MY NOSE TO SMELL AGAIN. I HAVE TO WEAR THE BRACE UNTIL MAY 2ND. I CAN NOT USE A NSAL WASH.

  9. Hi, last week I had a really bad upper respiratory/ sinus infection that included runny nose, itchy eyes, and on top of it fever at night. With the first 2 days being completely miserable I decided to try some nasacort that my cousin had to see if it would clear up my nose. So I sprayed it in each nostril and it helped clear up my nose. However, the next morning I couldn’t taste or smell anything, and it’s been like this for little over a week now. Is there anything I can do? Nasacort should be removed from the shelves!!! I honestly believe it is from those 2 squirts. Will my smell and taste ever return? Is there anything I can do?

    1. The problem is probably not the Nasacort since you only used it twice. It’s probably related to the infection. Be patient, but if your sense of smell doesn’t return, see your doctor. That’s what I would do anyway.

  10. I’m sick right now and I can’t smell or taste, it’s really bad I have a craving to drink water but when ever I do it tastes so bad like toilet water. I can only drink sweet things to taste it and I really want to taste correctly again.

  11. I went to the docs with an annoying cough I couldn’t get rid of and to get an asthma inhaler. Doctor checked me over and looked in my nose and said I had swollen sinuses.
    Prescribed fluticasone propionate nasal spray which I used for 9 days. After 7 days I thought my sense of smell was going, on the 9th day I googled it and it pointed to the drug I was prescribed as being the cause. I can’t put it down to anything else as I wasn’t doing anything different.
    Three weeks on and my sense of smell is still affected. I can sometimes smell something but it is very distant. Everyday smells still elude me, I just smell fresh air.
    Anyone else ever heard of this? I have an ENT appointment on March 15th but am a little scared as to if it will ever return.

  12. I’m 67 years old and over the last 12 months or so I’ve lost most of my sense of taste. None of the usual explanations seemed to apply to me so I assumed it was age related. Last week I ate a serving of kimchee for the first time. The next morning my sense of taste had completely returned. Coincidence? I don’t know, but I will continue to eat kimchee.

    1. So glad your sense of taste returned regardless of the strange circumstances under which that happened. Kimchee is great at reestablishing the good gut bacteria. I wonder if that might have been a factor.

  13. I have been cold for a week.Im 14 and my nose hurts a lot and sometimes its bleeds a bit.I cant taste but sometimes barely can when i blow my nose very hard that makes me hurt a lot.Is that a problem now?

  14. 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????

  15. I had a upper respiratory infection and lost my sense of smell for almost a week. It is gradually coming back. I can smell some things. Do not give up hope. I am hoping to get it back fully.

  16. my boyfriend lost his sense of smell when he was younger and we never understood why … he hates eating now because he cant taste anything help?

  17. Hi so I have a nasty cold and haven’t been able to taste or smell or days now and starting to worry cause I used zicam nasel aloe gel and just read your note … I thought zicam was a more natural option when choosing medicine which I hate to buy or use… now I’m kinda freaking out. What is a normal length of time till I should have my sense of smell back?!

    1. My sister-in-law lost her sense of smell after using a nasal inhaler for an extended period of time. That was one lesson I learned the easy way.
      In your case, it’s probably just the cold you have. Don’t freak out, be patient. When the cold is gone, your sense of smell will probably return.

  18. Back in 2013, I lost my taste and smell for 2 months. No reason. I felt at the time I was just under a lot of stress but then, worse than losing taste and smell it “turned”. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, everything, and I mean everything, started to smell and taste putrid. I couldn’t go to a restaurant because as soon as I walked in the door, smells made me so nauseous that I just turned around and walked out. I love to cook but NOTHING could prepare me for this horrid situation. I lived on Boost (the nutrition drink and only the chocolate) and ate red vines. I lived on Boost and red vines for 4 months! Finally, my taste and smell returned but I am petite and got down to a dreaded 87 lbs! I was horrified I’d never enjoy eating again. After this long 6 month ordeal, I finally got over it completely. Now, I end 2016 with another horrid trip through this hell. It started around Thanksgiving but now right before Christmas, I find myself with the same dang horrid putrid smells to food or drink. I’m thinking from what I’ve read, either I have an autoimmune disease or it’s my coming off Prempro, my hormone prescription. Wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

    1. Have you seen your doctor? If so, what did s/he say? You might ask if the problem could be a viral infection.

  19. Hello..I have neurological sarccoidosis..and I (autoimmune disease) and I have not had smell or taste in almost two yrs. That was one of the first things I noticed changing when I became sick. I have asked my ENT and he said it may come back and it may not. My ears are back to normal..I can taste some stuff others I can’t. But my smell is just not there. Once or twice I smelt a wiff of trash but that was it..please help. CW 1982

    1. Sorry to hear you’ve had such a time of it. Nerve damage is one of those big unknowns. Sometimes the problem resolves, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it partially resolves. Only time will tell. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet and getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

      The next time you see your Dr., ask if s/he thinks vit. b12 would be in order.

      Good luck and let us know how you’re doing.

  20. Hello i suffered from allegies my entire life,i cant really remember, but i think i lodt my smell and taste about 6 years ago.my eears would Itch and throat would hurt when i was going to get a cold.the sides of my troat would get swollen,the left more thst the right side.eventually i could see holes on the left side and saw white in some of the holes.i thought it was inffection so i went to urrgent care they gave me medicine. Now even if i dont have a cold i could see white.my allegies have changed. About a motj ago i had a head ache took Tylenol 1st day went away,second day i had it again .took Tylenol again,it woulg go away and come back.3rd day it was just there.i felt my eyes wanted to pop out.i knew it was from my sinis/allegies.i told my sister and dentist dr gave me a med.cant remember the name but it helped my sinus infection i recovered my smell and i say some of my taste only for a few day.i forgot to mention that my teeth would hurt and after finishing the mef.my teeth/gums got numed for a few weeks.now i cant smell or taste again.now i feel pressure on my left eye when i sneeze. Im taking multi vitamin’s, B6. Oh i forgot to mention that when i was pregnant my allergies disappears any idea why?? Was it the prenatal vitamins.if not i wish i could be pregnant forever. Thanks, Josie

  21. Hi my dad lost his sense of smell and taste twenty years ago and recently, every now and then, been getting it back here and there. For example we have a sense cupboard with candles and sense sticks etc it’s a wonderful smell and my dad (Gary) could smell it not for very long it goes as quickly as it comes. Since his accident he has lost a considerable amount of weight, whereas now he just stays the same weight. He does eat a lot but I think that’s just where he hasn’t had smell or taste since he was 19 but as I’ve said my dad hasn’t had his sense of smell and taste for twenty one years to be exact due to a head injury he had do you think that there’s a chance of him getting it back or is there anyway to help get it back. It would be his dream to regain sense of smell and taste. No matter the cost or the place or how wild the it may be if there is the slightest of chance he might be able to smell and tast things again I will take it. Thanks for any help 🙂 by the way I’m his daughter Eleanor

  22. I had a pretty bad sinus infection a couple of months ago that took three lots of antibiotics & almost 6 weeks to clear & my sense of smell & taste is yet to return. It’s been about 4 weeks since the infection was finally nailed which seems like a long time to wait to be able to smell & taste. I’ve not ever had a sinus infection before so I don’t know if this is normal or not…does anyone have experience with this?

  23. Hi I’ve lost my taste – everything from muesli to chocolate has the same unpleasant flavour…. The only unusual changes have been zinc drops under the tongue and dental x-rays, could these be the cause. Thank you for this site!! my heart goes out to all of those suffering, really hope you all find some solutions….

  24. I had a laminectomy cervical fusion surgery 8 weeks ago in July 2016. While in the hospital my tongue was swollen and numb. I could swallow but it was difficult to move food to the back of my throat to swallow. Then I developed thrush and my tongue felt like had drank hot hot coffee and had burned my tongue. I was given one 14 day regiment of meds. Then I had to swish,swish and swallow a liquid for 7 weeks. At the 8th week out and two post- op appointments I am experiencing thick slimy clear saliva on my tongue. That has been happening since a lot of the swelling has gone down. Now, I have lost my sense of smell and taste. I was told that since I had a breathing tube for 7 1/2 hrs. it will take a while for that to get back to normal. It is possible that the nerves have to readjust . So, I am getting ready to have physical therapy on my neck to help me lift my head and neck up and down. I have already slowly started using moist head to help with turning side to side. I will not give up!

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