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Loss of Smell and Taste

Losing the ability to smell and taste can have a huge impact on our lives. Here is an insight on the causes and cures of this condition.
Bidisha Mukherjee Jun 18, 2019
Our ability to taste and smell are gifts of nature. Sense of taste help us to enjoy delicious foods and beverages. The sense of smell lets us enjoy so many rich fragrances. These two senses are very closely related to one another. As a result, loss of smell often leads to loss of taste.
An example is loss of smell and taste after a cold. Our nasal passages get blocked due to cold, and we fail to taste the food. If the loss is for a short term, it causes a minor annoyance. However, if it lasts for a longer time, it could be serious. The inability to get a warning sign for spoiled food or gas leak can be dangerous for our health and safety.

What Causes Loss of Smell and Taste?

Age Factor:

There are several factors starting from diseases to injury that can lead to loss of taste and smell. Research studies have found that loss of smell and taste starts naturally with the increase in age due to degeneration of the nerves that control the senses of smell and taste.
Many people above the age of 60 tend to lose the ability to taste and smell because of this reason.

Nasal Blockage:

Blockage in the nasal passage is the most common cause. It can happen due to sinus infection, upper respiratory infection, allergies, growth of polyps in nasal or sinus cavity, etc. In all these conditions, the aroma reaching the smell receptors in the nasal passage decreases because of the obstruction and gives rise to the problem of smell and taste.

Radiation Therapy:

Some people are born with a lack of sense of smell and taste. It is also known as congenital anosmia. Any kind of head injury that affects the nerves responsible for smell can cause temporary or permanent loss of smell and taste.
People with diseases of the nervous system, hormonal disturbances, gum diseases, or patients who have lost their larynx or voice box can also face this kind of problem.

Other Reasons:

Those who are undergoing radiation therapy for the treatment of cancers of the head or neck region are likely to lose the sensations of smell and taste.
Side effects of certain medicines or exposure to harmful chemicals like insecticide for prolonged period of time can disable these senses. Smoking can cause extensive damage to the nasal membranes; thus, the sense of smell gets weakened and the foods seem tasteless.

Treatment

Treatment for loss of smell and taste depends on the cause responsible for this condition. The cause is diagnosed with a nasal examination using nasal telescope, x-ray and CT scan, medical history of the patient, etc.
» If caused by nasal congestion due to common cold, steam inhalation or hot shower will help to clear the nasal passage and resume the sense of smell and taste.
» If one quits smoking, improvement in the smell and taste function can be noticed.
» If it is a side effect of any medicine, one can smell and taste normally once the drug is stopped or changed.
» Nasal polyps often require treatment with antibiotics or surgery.
» When it is caused due to some diseases, then once that disease is treated, one can regain the sense of smell and taste. The best part is that our body has a natural mechanism to replace the damaged or old nerve cells and replace them with new ones after which the senses are regained.
So, if you are suffering from loss of smell and taste, be patient till the underlying cause is cured. Till then, adjust your lifestyle with the change. For example, install smoke alarms in house, avoid burning of food or fire hazards while cooking, ensure proper ventilation when you work with toxic substances, etc. This way, you can lead a normal life too.