What is causing my loss of smell and taste?

What is causing my loss of smell and taste?

When your sense of smell goes south, taste usually follows. That's because the olfactory area of the nose controls both. When you chew food, odor molecules enter through the back of your nose. Your taste buds tell you if a food is sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. Your nose notices the details as if that sweet taste is a grape or an apple. If you cover your nose, the food doesn't taste the same because you can't smell it.


As you age, you lose some of the olfactory nerve fibers in your nose. He has fewer taste buds and the ones he has left are not as sharp, especially from the age of 65. This often affects your ability to notice salty or sweet flavors first, but don't add more salt or sugar to your meal. That could cause other health problems.

Illness or Infection

Anything that irritates and inflames the inner lining of the nose and makes it feel stuffy, runny, itchy, or dripping can affect the senses of smell and taste. This includes the common cold, sinus infections, allergies, sneezing, congestion, the flu, and COVID-19. In most cases, your senses will return to normal when you feel better. If a couple of weeks have passed, call your doctor.

Vitamin deficiencies

Loss of taste and smell could be your body's way of telling you it has few vitamins. Certain conditions and medications can cause you to have a low level of vitamins associated with smell and taste, such as A, B6, B12, and zinc. It can also be a chicken-egg situation: If you eat less because you can't smell or taste anything, your body may not get the vitamins it needs.

Smoking, drugs, and chemicals

In addition to its ability to cause cancer, tobacco smoke can damage or kill the cells that help the brain classify smells and tastes. Smoking can also cause your body to produce more mucus and decrease the number of taste buds. Cocaine use can have a similar effect on sensory cells. The same goes for hazardous chemicals like chlorine, paint thinners, and formaldehyde.


If you can't get enough air through your nose, your sense of smell suffers. And smell affects taste. Blockages occur if you have nasal polyps. These are noncancerous tumors that grow in the lining of the nose and sinuses. Or you might have a deviated septum that makes one of your nasal passages smaller than the other. Both are treated with nasal sprays, medications, or surgery.

Head injury

Your olfactory nerve carries smell information from your nose to your brain. Trauma to the head, neck, or brain can damage that nerve, as well as the lining of the nose, nostrils, or the parts of the brain that process odor. You may notice it immediately or over time. In some cases, your senses come back on their own, especially if the loss was mild at first. It may partially improve and can only taste or smell strong flavors and aromas.

Cancer and Treatment

Certain types of cancer and treatment can change messages between the nose, mouth, and brain. This includes tumors in the head or neck and radiation to those areas. Chemotherapy or targeted therapy and some drugs for side effects may also have an effect. You may have a metallic taste in your mouth or certain smells may be different or stronger. These problems often go away when your treatment ends.


Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can change your senses, especially antibiotics and blood pressure medications. They either alter your taste receptors, encode messages from your taste buds to your brain, or change your saliva. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any medicines.