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 a 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, if you can, 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
  • Train your nose – To do this check out the post Homemade Perfume Part I
  • If you think your loss of taste and smell is due to an infection, you might try a treatment using essential oils. In a humidifier, try adding a few drops of peppermint oil, tea tree, lemon, rosemary, thyme, and eucalyptus.

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

Please read Thieves’ Oil Recipe – Research Says It Really Works. This recipe works wonders and can be put in a humidifying diffuser,


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.

Related articles:

Thieves’ Oil Recipe – Research Says It Really Works

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

  1. Has anyone used antibiotic Azithromycin when they had a bad cold or pneumonia. There seems to be a strong link between this drug and losing our sense of smell and taste…I lost mine 9 months ago after a bought of pneumonia and a course of antibiotics.. Just curious

    1. Hi there Connie,
      Certain drugs including Zithromax (Zithromycin) have been shown to affect smell. However, the effect is normally temporary and disappears once the drug is discontinued. There is a great article, though somewhat outdated, you might find interesting here. Another article you might find helpful can be found here. Here’s hoping you are smelling all your favorite things again soon. 🙂

    2. Hi. I’ve had symptoms of blowing nose coughing no temperature or body aches – for a month. On 2 antibiotics – one wasn’t doing the trick and Delsym cough syrup. I lost sense of smell and taste partial taste has come back with “hot” food – ate jalapeño poppers. Wow but that was it. That’s my story !

      1. Hi Donna,
        Once Lori and I both had a viral infection that made everything smell differently than it should. It took several months for scents to become normal. Sounds like you’re getting there and that’s a very good thing.:)

  2. I have lost my sense of taste, but still have my sense of smell. Everything tastes so sweet it nauseates me. I have lost 21 pounds this month, as I try to eat but just can’t. I have no sinus infection, but I do blow my nose a lot. I had been using Vicks Vapo Rub in my nostrils in order to breathe better at night, and am wondering if this could be the culprit. I just switched to vaseline to keep tissues moist. I don’t usually get colds or the flu. It’s been years. I do suffer horribly from dry mouth. I am going to try zinc and see if that helps. I have too much B-12 in my blood, but no vitamin D. My doctor thought I might have Multiple Sclerosis. I want my sense of taste back! There is no point to cooking.

    1. Hi Deborah,
      I found some information you might find helpful. (Don’t panic as this is just one cause.)
      It’s very important to keep at it until you get a diagnosis. The next time you go see your doctor, go armed with information. Insist on having the appropriate tests done and/or specialists to see.
      We love you.

  3. My partner fell over 5 months ago and banged her head, she hasnt been able to smell or taste anything other than sour salt sweet and spicey, do you think her senses will return? is there anything we can try ?
    loosing faith now 🙁

    1. Hi Steph,
      If the loss of taste is indeed due to head trauma, acupuncture might help. There have been studies indicating so. However, usually, time is the best healer. Our brains are amazing in how well they can heal, but it takes time. Sometimes lots of time.
      If I was your partner, I would make sure I was doing everything possible to help in the healing process. I would particularly make sure I was getting plenty of sleep and add a vitamin B12 supplement to my diet.
      Our wishes for fast healing is sent your way.

  4. I had a sinus infection about 6 weeks ago. And have not had my smell or taste since than. My Dr put me on steroids but no go. She looks into my nose and says it’s inflamed but she can’t tell what’s going on inside of why it’s inflamed my acupuncturist did acupuncture on my sinuses no go
    My General Dr. subjected this natural nose spray with xlear with Capsicum and nothing still my General Dr. scheduled me to see a ENT dr. next week what do you think

  5. I got a cold like 1 month ago. I totally lost my sense of smell and taste. Sometimes I could smell and taste… it comes and goes. It has never happen to me like this. Everytime I would have a cold everything would be back to normal. But now it’s taking a long time. I’m kinda getting worried. Can anyone help me?

      1. hello ,its been three months i cant smell nor taste flavors only salt and sour taste . but i cant smell anything .i have these one smell for everything everything smells the same. can you help me. what can i do to bring back my senses

        1. Hi,
          So sorry you’re having this problem. Sounds like it’s time to see your doctor for answers. Salt, sour, bitter, and sweet are receptors on our tongue. Flavors are experienced through the olfactory system and recognized by the brain.
          Here’s hoping you recover fast.

    1. Anabel,

      This is Chad… I took a trip to Spain back in February 2017 with a cold… after the cold I had lost my sense of smell and taste. I can get a small amount of sense and smell but nothing close to what it was before… have you found a solution to your issue?



  6. I have chronic sinus problems and a cough which has lasted 6 months.
    After going to the doctors and given steroids and antibiotics with no success,I am waiting to see ent specialist.
    I lost my taste and smell 2 months ago,despite not having a blocked nose I still have the cough and frequent sore throat and earache.
    What can I do to help regain my senses? I really miss enjoying the smells and everything tastes so bland. The doctors seem a bit baffled and have not really come to a decision of how to treat me.
    I also have reflux and a hiatus hernia which really don’t help the situation.
    I’m so frustrated with it all and wish it would return to normal again,you don’t realise how important taste and smell are until you lose it.

    1. So sorry you’re having such troubles. I hope the ENT specialist can help. You might also consider aromatherapy as something to try. Some people have had good luck with this.

  7. I can taste but can not smell. This has been for a couple of years now. I have not been sick in any way. My sister tells me that it sounds like I have a cold when I talk on the telephone though. Any thughts?`

    1. Two years is a long time. Have you seen a doctor to be tested for a chronic infection? Could it be an allergy to something in your surroundings? If it was me, I would first see a doctor to rule out an infection. If it wasn’t an infection or other treatable problem. I would then visit an allergy specialist and get tested. Good luck.

        1. Hi Katy,
          I am not a doctor. My degree is in microbiology. However, all medical related posts you will find here were written after researching the latest studies, investigating reliable websites, and/or interviewing physicians. I appreciate the opportunity to share this information with you and our other readers.

    1. I too had the flu 7 weeks ago and I lost my sense of smell and taste. I know I can taste sweet and salty but not the food it self. Went to a ear nose throat dr and he told me that the virus damaged the nerves sensory that causes you to smell. Because of that I will never smell or taste again. I have no inflammation to go down or polyps to take out. I just have to wait it out.

      1. I also can not smell anything at all over 2 years now, had all the test ENT doctor had me do a CT scan make sure no tumor and all was good, no explanation at all .I did not care so much 2 years ago but now it drives me crazy. I have to set timers for everything I burn things like toast fire alarm thank god works good . I did not have a flu or a cold no polyps I have never done drugs we just don’t have any ideal what could have caused this ?? Good luck!! I hope you get your sent back but I don’t have much hope for me . God Bless

    2. I’ve been going through sinus infections for 8 years. The only way I can smell and taste is when I’ve been to the doctors and prescribed steroids. I hate it too y’all. Going to a specialist next month hoping they can find the cause.

      1. Chronic infections aren’t wise to ignore. Good for you going to see a doctor, particularly since steroids can weaken our immune systems depending on the frequency of use.

  8. 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.

    1. It’s difficult to be sure, but patience is what it takes. In the meantime, take time to relax, get plenty of sleep. Stress can slow down the healing process.

  9. 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 ?????

  10. 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.

    1. I just got over a very bad cold, fever and bad cough (Bronchitis- never had it before) anyway I lost my smelling sense as well. The doc told me a week ago it can be another 3-4 weeks because of that virus.
      Really sorry for everyone suffering.

  11. 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?



    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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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 ?? .


  16. 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.

  17. 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.

    1. Have your doctor check you for an infection. Both Lori and I experienced that problem after a viral infection. Nothing smelled right and some things smelled horrible. It took several months for us to recover. Hang in there.

  18. 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.

    1. I have been diagnosed with same thing chronic case I lost all smell and taste for 3 weeks now, after having a bronchial infection/head cold, ENT put me on fluticasone propionate, cefuroxime axetil-just for safe measures, and prednisone for 3 weeks, been on meds for 3 days no improvement yet. I am in the culinary field and cooking career , need to get my taste and smell back.
      wasabi normally burns like …. not me, not now ???? help anyone!

      1. Get well fast. It’s frustrating for anyone losing their sense of smell, but it has to be absolutely terrifying for someone working in your line of work. Try and stay calm so your body can heal faster.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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????

  22. 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.

  23. 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?

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. Hello i suffered from allegies my entire life,i cant really remember, but i think i lodt my smell and taste about 6 years 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 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 teeth/gums got numed for a few i cant smell or taste 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

  28. 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

  29. 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?

  30. 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….

  31. 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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