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Why can I Taste But Not Smell?

Conditions that prevent air from reaching smell receptors located high in the nose and loss or injury to the smell receptors can cause loss of smell. Loss of smell is not dangerous but can sign a nervous system problem. Temporary loss of smell is common with colds and nasal allergies like hay fever (allergic rhinitis). It could happen after a viral illness. Aging causes some loss of smell. In the majority of cases, there is no clear cause and no treatment.

Your sense of smell also enhances your ability to taste. Many people who lose their sense of smell also report losing their sense of taste. Most people can still distinguish between salty, sweet, sour, and bitter tastes on their tongues, and they might be unable to distinguish between other flavors. Some spices, such as pepper, may affect the nerves in the face, and you might feel them rather than smell them.

What is Anosmia?

We usually take our sense of smell for granted. But have you ever considered what it would be like to be unable to smell something? Anosmia is a complete loss of smell (an-OHZ-me-uh). Food tastes different without your sense of smell, you can’t smell the scent of a flower, and you could unknowingly end up in a dangerous situation. Without the ability to detect odors, you would not be able to detect a gas leak, smoke from a fire, or sour milk.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans yearly seek treatment for taste and smell disorders. Fortunately, most people experience anosmia as a temporary inconvenience caused by a severely stuffy nose caused by a cold. When a cold has passed, a person’s sense of smell returns. It may also be a sign of COVID-19.
However, some people, particularly the elderly, may continue to lose their sense of smell. Furthermore, anosmia can be a symptom of a more serious medical condition. A doctor should evaluate any persistent odor issues.

Anosmia (Loss of Sense of Smell)

The term “anosmia” refers to a complete loss of smell. An infection, such as the common cold or flu, can cause anosmia, and nasal polyps or other obstructions could also cause it. A common symptom of COVID-19 is a loss of sense of smell, and treating the underlying cause of anosmia can usually restore your sense of smell.

Smell Fundamentals

Certain processes govern a person’s sense of smell. To begin, a molecule released from a substance (such as flower fragrance) must stimulate special nerve cells (called olfactory cells) located high up in the nose. These nerve cells send information to the brain, recognizing the specific smell. Anything that interferes with these processes, such as nasal congestion, nasal blockage, or nerve cell damage, can result in a loss of smell.
Our ability to smell influences our ability to taste. Our taste buds can only detect a few flavors without the sense of smell, which can impact your quality of life.

Causes of Anosmia

The most common cause of anosmia is nasal congestion caused by a cold, allergy, sinus infection, or poor air quality. Other causes of anosmia include:

  • Nasal polyps are noncancerous growths in the nose and sinuses that can obstruct the nasal passage.
  • Surgery or head trauma can cause damage to the nose and smell nerves.
  • Toxic chemical exposure, such as pesticides or solvents.
  • Antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory medications, heart medications, and other medications.
  • Cocaine addiction.
  • Old age. Your sense of smell, like your vision and hearing, can deteriorate with age. One’s sense of smell is at its peak between 30 and 60, and it begins to wane.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis, as well as nutritional deficiencies, congenital conditions, and hormonal disturbances.
  • Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.

Symptoms of Anosmia

A loss of smell is the most obvious symptom of anosmia. Anosmia patients may notice a change in the way things smell. For example, familiar things lose their odor.

Diagnosis of Anosmia

Tell your doctor if you have a loss of smell that you can’t attribute to a cold or allergy or if it doesn’t improve after a week. Your doctor can use a special instrument to look inside your nose to see if a polyp or growth is impairing your ability to smell or if an infection is present.
Further testing by an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT or an otolaryngologist) who specializes in nose and sinus problems may be required to determine the cause of anosmia. A CT scan may be required to give the doctor a better view of the area.

Treatments for Anosmia

If a cold or allergy to nasal congestion causes anosmia, treatment is usually unnecessary, and the problem will resolve independently. Short-term use of over-the-counter decongestants may help you breathe easier by opening up your nasal passages. However, consult your doctor if the congestion worsens or does not clear up after a few days. You could have an infection and require antibiotics, or you could be suffering from another medical condition.
You may require surgery to remove the obstruction and restore your sense of smell if a polyp or growth is present.

If you suspect that a medication is impairing your sense of smell, consult your doctor to see if there are alternative treatment options available that will not impair your ability to smell. However, never discontinue a medication without first consulting your doctor.
Sometimes a person’s sense of smell returns on its own. Unfortunately, anosmia is not always curable, especially if it is caused by old age. There are, however, steps you can take to make a living with the inability to smell more pleasant and secure. Install smoke and fire alarms in your home and office, and take extra precautions with leftovers. If you have any doubts about food safety, don’t eat it.

Quit smoking if you smoke. Tobacco use can impair your senses, including your sense of smell.

What are the Consequences of Anosmia?

Anosmia patients may lose interest in food and eating, resulting in malnutrition and weight loss.
People with anosmia should always keep working smoke alarms in their homes. They should also exercise caution when storing food and using natural gas because they may have difficulty detecting spoiled foods and gas leaks.

Precautions recommended include :

  • Properly labeling foods with expiration dates.
  • Using electric appliances
  • Read labels on chemicals such as kitchen cleaners and insecticides.

Other symptoms of losing your sense of smell include:

  • An inability to taste food, which can result in overeating or undereating an inability to smell spoiled food, which can result in food poisoning
  • If you can’t smell, you’re at a higher risk in the event of a fire. Smokers’ ability to recall smell-related memories deteriorates.
  • Intimacy is lost due to the inability to smell perfume or pheromones; you lose the ability to detect chemicals or other dangerous odors in your home; you lack empathy from family, friends, or doctors; and you lose the ability to detect body odors.
  • Depression and other mood disorders

Other Disorder in Which you Loss your Smell

Impaired Smell

The inability to smell properly is called bad smell, which can refer to either a total inability to smell or a partial inability to smell. It is a symptom of several medical conditions that can be temporary or permanent.

Problems with the nose, brain, or nervous system can cause smell loss. If you have trouble smelling, consult your doctor. In some cases, it indicates a more serious underlying problem.

Possible Causes of a Loss of Smell

The loss of smell can be temporary or permanent. Temporary loss of smell is commonly associated with allergies or bacterial or viral infections, such as:

  • nasal allergies
  • influenza
  • colds
  • hay fever

It is normal to lose your sense of smell as you get older. Rather than a complete inability to smell, the impairment is usually a distorted sense of smell.

Other Conditions that can Cause Bad Smell are as Follows:

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease are examples of dementia (memory loss)

  • tumors in the brain
  • malnutrition
  • Nasal tumors or operations
  • head trauma
  • sinus infection (sinus infection)
  • Upper respiratory infections caused by radiation therapy
  • hormonal imbalances
  • Use of a nasal decongestant

Certain prescription medications, such as antibiotics and blood pressure medications, can also impair your sense of taste and smell.

Identifying the Source of a Loss of Smell

If your sense of smell is impaired, consult your doctor before using over-the-counter (OTC) treatment products. Tell them when you first noticed changes in your ability to smell and any other symptoms you are experiencing.

Answering the following questions can assist your doctor in determining what is causing your impaired sense of smell:

  • Can you detect the aroma of some foods but not others?
  • Can you detect flavors?
  • Do you take any prescription medications?
  • What are your other symptoms?
  • Have you recently been sick with a cold or the flu?

Do you have Allergies, or have you Recently had them?

After reviewing your medical history, the doctor will examine your nose to see if there are any obstructions in your nasal passages. Among these tests are:

  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • X-ray
  • Nasal endoscopy (examination of the nasal passages with a thin tube that contains a camera)

These tests will allow your doctor to better look at the structures inside your nose. Imaging tests will reveal whether a polyp or another abnormal growth obstructs your nasal passages. They can also assist in determining whether an abnormal growth or tumor in the brain is impairing your sense of smell. In some cases, a sample of cells from within the nose may be required to make a diagnosis.

What are the Treatment Options for Impaired Smell?

The bad smell caused by a viral or bacterial infection is frequently temporary. Antibiotics may be prescribed if you have a bacterial infection to hasten the healing process, aiding in restoring smell. Decongestants and over-the-counter antihistamines can help relieve allergy-related nasal congestion.
If you have a stuffy nose and can’t blow it, use a humidifier to moisten the air. A humidifier in your home can help loosen mucus and relieve congestion.

You will be treated for the underlying condition if your impaired smell is caused by a neurological disease, tumor, or other disorder. Some cases of odor impairment may be permanent.

How to Prevent Smell Impairment?

There is no sure way to prevent smell loss. You can reduce your chances of getting a cold or bacterial infection by doing the following:

  • Throughout the day, wash your hands frequently.
  • After touching public areas, wash your hands.
  • Avoid people who have colds or the flu whenever possible.

Understand the potential side effects of all of your prescription medications. The bad smell is one of the side effects mentioned in the leaflet material.

Are there Any Other Odour Disorders?

Yes. People can develop phantosmia (smelling things that aren’t there), parosmia (a distorted sense of smell), and hyposmia, in addition to anosmia (a reduced sense of smell).

Who is Affected by Anosmia?

People of all ages can suffer from temporary anosmia. However, long-term loss of smell is more common in adults over 50. Congenital anosmia occurs in a small number of people. To put it another way, they were born with the condition, and one in every 10,000 people is born with congenital anosmia.

What is the Prevalence of Anosmia?

Many conditions, including colds, sinus infections, and allergies, can cause anosmia. Symptoms are usually transient and resolve themselves in a short period, and COVID-19 is also associated with anosmia.

Is Anosmia Harmful?

While anosmia is rarely dangerous, it can be linked to various serious health problems. It can also impair your ability to detect the smell of smoke, gas leaks, or spoiled food. As a result, people with anosmia should take extra precautions to ensure the safety of their surroundings. Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors regularly, and carefully read food expiration dates.


Losing your sense of smell isn’t always serious; however, anosmia can be a symptom of other, more serious health problems. Contact your healthcare provider if you experience a sudden or prolonged loss of smell. They can determine the root cause of your anosmia and recommend treatments to alleviate your symptoms.

But Losing your sense of smell is upsetting, but there is still hope. According to the New York Otolaryngology Group, nonsurgical therapies can treat and reverse half of all anosmia cases. In most other cases, coping strategies can reduce the symptoms and effects of loss of sense of smell.