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Loss of smell and taste: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The senses are our way of perceiving the world. Through them, the human being receives stimuli from the outside. When these fail, we are indisputably affected in our daily lives. In the case of taste and smell, they are two senses that go hand in hand. The disorders of one affect the other. We often think that we have impaired taste, and it is really about the smell.

In any case, alterations in smell and taste can affect our daily lives, especially the social and nutritional aspects related to food and appetite. If you want to know more, we will talk about FastlyHeal poss of smell and taste in the following article: causes and treatment.

Loss of smell and loss of taste

Taste and smell are two closely related senses linked to the individual’s diet, which in turn involves a vital aspect of nutrition and a social one. Therefore, suffering from smell and taste disorders can harm the lives of individuals.

Taste perception is done through the tongue, which is capable of distinguishing five primary flavors :

  • Dulce.
  • Salado.
  • Acid.
  • Bitter.
  • Umami.

For its part, the smell is concentrated in the nose. Physically, the nose and mouth are connected. When we talk about a scent perceived through the nose by the front and back, we speak of aroma and are the odors linked to food. When the smell is not related to the food, it is called fragrance.

In the case of taste, it is the sum of both the physical and chemical properties of taste and smell when eating. Flavors, in general, are recognized by smell. Due to this very close link between taste and smell, it is common for patients with smell disorders to have problems with biting.

One in five adults suffers from some smell disorder, and these tend to worsen with age. The decrease in smell is called hyposmia, and when the ability to smell is wholly lost, it is called anosmia. In the case of decreased taste or hypogeusia, it can also progress to a total loss of this sense, called ageusia.

Smell disorders are more common in men than in women. A recent study concluded that 25% of men between the ages of 60 and 69 suffered from some smell disorder, while only 11% of women in the same age range suffered from it.

Loss of smell and taste: causes

The loss of smell and taste is related to a variety of causes. Among them are the following:

  • Aging is one of the most frequent causes of loss of taste and smell, especially after 60 years. The origin is the progressive loss of taste and olfactory cells [1].
  • Problems in the nasal passages can be physical, such as deviation of the septum, enlargement of adenoids, presence of polyps, congenital malformation, or some trauma. They can also be due to sinusitis, acute rhinitis, respiratory infections, and allergic processes.
  • Exposure to chemicals (such as solvents and insecticides), environmental pollution, and toxic habits such as smoking, snorting cola, and cocaine can originate from the loss of smell and taste.
  • Some nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin B12 and zinc, can alter the olfactory epithelium.
  • Some diseases, such as brain tumors or trauma, affect the temporal lobe. Also, according to the website of ** Hospital Universitario General de Catalunya, “a smell disorder can be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or multiple sclerosis.
  • Certain medications can alter smell, just as radiation therapy can also decrease the ability to taste and smell.
  • Genetic alteration.
  • Poor oral hygiene, dental and gum problems.

Some diseases can cause loss of smell and taste, for example:

  • Hepatic and immunological disorders.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Obesity.
  • Diabetes.

How are smell and taste disturbances diagnosed?

To determine the origin of smell and taste disorders, an ENT specialist must carry out a complete clinical evaluation of the patient through a physical examination of the ears, nose, and throat. In addition, you will have to reconstruct your medical history, seeking to know if you have suffered any trauma or accident or if you have been exposed to any chemical agent. This can be done, among other tests:

  • Endoscopy of the nasal passages. Examination of the sinuses and nasal passages through X-ray or MRI.
  • Comprehensive neurological exams.

In addition, other tests can be performed, such as:

  • Recognition tests of different chemical substances at varying concentrations.
  • “Scratch and smell” test to assess the ability to recognize smells.
  • Test “Drink a sip, spit and rinse” evaluates how the individual reacts to different concentrations of compounds.
  • Application of compounds in specific points of the language.

Measurement of the patient’s minimum ability to perceive odors.

Loss of smell and taste: solution

When taste and smell disorders occur, it is essential to identify the cause of them to establish an effective treatment. Some reasons are easy to treat in a short time; however, in some cases, the condition is irreversible. Among the different treatments are:

  • If it involves obstruction of the nasal passages, the respiratory condition can be treated with medication, or surgery can be used to remove the polyps or straighten the septum.
  • If the cause is exposure to toxic substances or tobacco consumption, it will be enough to change your habits and avoid inhaling the chemical agents or stop smoking if it is the case. Your senses of taste and smell will gradually recover, although sometimes the damage can be more serious.
  • Supplement the diet by incorporating foods rich in zincvitamin B12, vitamin C, and antioxidants due to a lack of nutrients.

Psychological support is recommended as it will help the patient accept and understand the magnitude of the condition. Especially in cases where the loss of smell and taste is permanent, it is essential that the patient receives their situation and makes the necessary adjustments in their daily lives. This will keep you out of danger because when someone does not perceive odors or taste, they may not react in alert situations such as fires or may not distinguish damaged foods.

Home remedies for loss of smell and taste

As we mentioned earlier, the origins of taste and smell disorders are many and varied. It is often a reversible condition, although in some cases, it is not. Sometimes home remedies can help improve the situation. These remedies include:

  • Castor oil: A drop of warm oil is placed in each nostril several times a day until improvement is noticed. Castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties, so it helps clear the nasal passages.
  • Garlic: An infusion is made with two cloves of garlic, which is taken warm several times a day. It is used for its antimicrobial qualities.
  • Ginger: it can be chewed raw or taken as an infusion since ginger stimulates the taste buds in both ways.
  • Inhalations of steam: Boiling water is placed with a few drops of eucalyptus, and with a towel on the head, breathe in the moisture to deflate the nostrils. It is a very effective remedy when the loss of smell and taste is due to nasal congestion.
  • Lemon, apple cider vinegar, and cinnamon work as palate stimulators and are natural antiseptics. They can be ingested directly.
  • Add zinc to the daily diet: This mineral is present in beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products.
  • Keep teeth and gums clean.
  • Walk for 10 minutes before eating, as the sense of smell is heightened after physical exercise.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Loss of smell and taste: causes and treatment, we recommend that you enter our category of Ear, nose, and throat.

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