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Loss of smell and taste: Causes and treatments

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Probably, nobody would like to suffer what someone who does not have smell and taste suffers. It is not just about feeling a perfume or tasting a delicious meal. Part of the day-to-day can be complicated, and your life may even be in danger if you eat something wrong or don’t smell a gas leak. For this reason, it is so important to know what is causing this problem, if it is an inflammation in the nose, if it was a virus, or is it the beginning of another more complicated disease, such as Parkinson’s.

If you want to know more about these problems and how to regain smell and taste, we invite you to continue reading this FastlyHealarticle.

Causes of loss of smell and taste

According to different reports, the loss of smell is a problem suffered by between 2 and 20% of people, with the elderly who suffer most from this problem. It involves not only the difficulty to perceive odors, but it can also cause discomfort, alteration of the quality of life and the perception of the environment by the person who suffers it, decreased enjoyment of food, and certain dangers, such as lack of perception from the bad smell generated by bad food or the smell of gas, which is very dangerous.

On the other hand, the associated loss of taste is a significant disorder. It occurs because preference is given by the sensation that food causes directly on the papillae but also by smell. In other words, losing smell also loses taste (or part of it), although the tongue and nervous system structures are in regular operation. And this can also cause severe malnutrition disorders because by not feeling the taste, sometimes, the person stops eating correctly (although it has also been reported that some people with problems of this type eat healthier, since they do not eat for eating, but to satisfy your appetite).

This is very important when determining the cause of the loss of smell and taste and is that, generally, the origin is first in the nose or in some of the structures of the nervous system that are related to smell. Many people only notice an alteration in taste at first, and when a specialist receives them, they realize that they do not have a good sense of smell either. There are different reasons why there may be an alteration of smell and taste :

  • Viral infections (such as coronavirus ).
  • Chronic rhinosinusitis, septum deviation, and frequent colds.
  • Trauma to the head or nose.
  • Neurodegenerative diseases. Did you know that anosmia can be one of the first manifestations of Parkinson’s?
  • Conditions in the pituitary or pituitary (such as tumors).
  • Toxic
  • Birth problems (congenital).
  • A loss that occurs with age.

But it may also be that the cause is not found, in which case it is called “idiopathic.”

It is also important to say that the loss of smell can be partial (hyposmia), total (anosmia), or there is a distortion of it (parosmia). The alteration in taste can be a change in the perception of flavors (dysgeusia) or the complete lack of taste (ageusia), which is somewhat rarer.

How to know that you have an alteration of smell and taste

It is not enough with just a personal perception; it is essential that a person suffering from alterations in taste and smell consult a specialist since, as has been seen, it is not only a simple matter.

To determine if you have an alteration in these senses, a specialist in otorhinolaryngology (specialized in taste and smell disorders) will ask you a series of questions, will check you to see if there is any visible alteration, will perform a study to see the nasal structures and throat, called fibroscopy, and will order imaging studies (computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, as appropriate). In addition, it will perform a series of tests to determine specific nasal parameters :

  • Identification of different smells.
  • Odor threshold (or the least odor stimulus you feel).
  • Differentiation between different scents.

Once all these tests have been carried out, the cause can probably be determined, and, based on this, treatment can be established to restore smell and taste as soon as possible.

Treatments to restore smell and taste

As has been seen, there are different reasons why the loss of smell can originate, and each cause must be treated differently to achieve the best possible evolution:

Rhinosinus problems

Usually, there are some difficulties in breathing, frequent or permanent secretions, discomfort to sleep, snoring, among others. In that case, generally, the resolution of the nasal disorder through medical treatment or surgery will help recover both smell and taste, which will also depend on the existence of an allergy or having suffered a viral infection that has caused the problem.

Loss of smell due to viral infection

Some viruses (such as the recently named coronavirus) can cause a sudden loss of smell and taste. Also, once the infection is resolved, this may persist. Some people recover spontaneously (it is reported that between 32 and 66% of patients do), but others do not.

Different therapies have been tried, and the one that has given the most results is ” smell training, “in which the person must smell four substances (provided in a set) for several seconds, always the same substances. And this should be done for at least four months, every day, twice a day. With this, the nerve receptors and transmitters are retrained. This therapy is more effective than training by smelling different substances. In addition, it can be tried with intranasal vitamin A, zinc citrate, and gluconate treatments.

Post-traumatic cause

Spontaneous recovery is often difficult after an accident in which one of the nerve structures involved in the sense of smell has been damaged. Among the treatments that can be done are:

  • Smell training.
  • Zinc gluconate.
  • Oral and intranasal corticosteroids.

Neurodegenerative diseases

Such is the case of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, in which one of the first manifestations of the disease may be the sudden or gradual loss of smell (and taste). Thus taking this symptom into account helps diagnose these diseases early and improve your prognosis.

To improve the smell in these cases, you can also resort to “smell training.”

Congenital cause

When smell and taste are not present from birth, the cause is said to be congenital. Treatment for these cases has not yet been found, there are possibilities in gene therapy, but much remains to be investigated.

Idiopathic and age-related cause

There are no scientific studies on treatments that have given good results. However, you can try “smell training” and the changes in habits that we will see below.

Changes in habits

Whatever the cause of the alteration of smell and taste, there are specific measures you can take to return your body to balance and, in this way, give it a better chance of recovery. It would be best if you did not settle for a body working at half-machine when it is within your power to make it improve.

  • Eat healthily: if you want to improve, you must change what you have been doing, and one of the keys is in food. Healthy foods promote health and restore the lost balance. Leave out processed, dairy, and gluten. This is very important because they are inflammatory and promote chronic diseases. Base your diet on raw fruits and vegetables. From them, you can obtain many vitamins and minerals essential for recovery. The nuts and seeds provide the oils your body needs, especially your nervous system. Do not consume sugar or other refined ones such as salt, rice, or flour. I prefer whole grain products. Switch to healthy proteins: better legumeswhat meats. It does not mean being an extremist. You can start little by little, with slight changes, and from time to time, treat yourself. Everyone can find their way.
  • Do not smoke: cigarettes are a tremendous poison that, for sure, is negatively influencing your smell and taste.
  • Exercise: mobilizing your body is not only good to lose extra kilos. It is essential to maintain good health, activate circulation, and help your body eliminate accumulated toxins. On the other hand, it will make you feel better in spirit, which is very important when the problem you suffer causes you anguish.

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 How to recover smell and taste, we recommend that you enter our Ear, Nose, and Throat category.

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