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Can A Sinus Infection Cause Loss Of Smell And Taste

Loss Of Taste And Smell: How To Get Your Sense Of Taste & Smell Back After A Sinus Infection

Possible causes of loss of smell – Dr. Harihara Murthy

July 23, 2021 Written by: Michael Menachof Categories: Nose, Sinus

Dr. Menachof, MD, has specialized in conditions around the head, throat, ear, nose, neck and face for over 20 years, and was the first to bring sublingual allergy drops to Colorado in 2005. He has been recognized as a Fellow by multiple academies, named one of Americas Top Facial Plastic Surgeons continually since 2003 and is featured in multiple national publications.

Experiencing a loss of taste or smell? Learn more about what causes it and how to get your senses back after a sinus infection.

Have you ever noticed that a certain food didnt taste as good as it used to? Or that a once pungent smell didnt bother you as much? Maybe you took a whiff of those spring flowers and smelled nothing! While certainly alarming, this is most likely a result of a very common condition called anosmia, or the loss of your sense of smell.

Since our smell and taste buds are so closely linked, any conditions or irritants that cause swelling in the nasal passages can lead to a loss of smell and therefore taste. While typically just a temporary nuisance, loss of smell can also pose a dangerous threat, as your sense of smell is responsible for alerting you to dangers like gas leaks, rotten food, or fire. And because it affects your sense of taste, it can also lead to loss of interest in eating that results in unwanted weight loss and malnutrition.

What Are The Treatment Options

Typical treatment options are noted in the individual causes of fungal sinusitis described above. Frequently, some sort of surgery or procedure is required to physically remove the fungus, the mucus that contains it, and sometimes the tissue that has been affected.

Antifungal medications can be used as well, but usually not without a surgery. There have been some studies that indicate that antifungal medications called azoles, such as itraconazole, can be useful in treating allergic fungal sinusitis. With invasive fungal sinusitis, use of antifungal medications is required.

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Can You Taste Without Smell

Smell and taste are closely related. Your tongue can detect sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes. But without your sense of smell, you wouldnt be able to detect delicate, subtle flavors.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Most of the time, losing your sense of smell isnt serious. But there are instances in which anosmia indicates other, more serious health conditions. If you develop sudden or prolonged loss of smell, contact your healthcare provider. They can find the underlying cause of your anosmia and recommend treatments to ease your symptoms.

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But Is It Sinus Infection Or Covid

Overlapping symptoms can make it very difficult to determine whether one has a sinus infection or a COVID-19 infection. If you are unsure of what your symptoms might constitute and have not been tested, use common sense when it comes to symptom management and be mindful of local health ordinances.

Common symptoms of each include:

Sinus Infection

Can You Smell And Taste A Sinus Infection

Sinusitis Nhs Causes Taste Post Nasal Drip

A side effect of nasal congestion is that you will find it challenging to smell or taste. Again, the swelling is to blame since the scents and aromas you are used to cant reach the top of the nose. Sometimes, the inflammation presses down on the nervous system, impacting the signal that triggers taste and smell.

Although some of the symptoms are shared, there are several distinct ways to tell if you have covid or a sinus infection.

Its human nature to sometimes think the worst if you experience any symptoms in todays environment but in fact, the common cold, influenza, allergies, and sinus infections share some of the same symptoms as the COVID-19.

Heres how you can tell the difference and when you should consider seeking medical help.

Read Also: Can A Sinus Infection Be Bacterial

What Happens During A Sinus Infection

The sinuses are just air-filled spaces in your skull. Scientists arent completely sure why they exist, but they do lighten the skull, allow the voice to reverberate, and produce mucus that lubricates the inside of the nose.

Your sinuses connect to your nose by small drainage openings called ostia. Ostia are how air flows through the nose into the sinuses.

Though your sinuses are usually filled with air, they can become blocked and fill with fluid and mucus. When the fluid and mucus stick around long enough, bacteria can begin to flourish.

Now, this normally air-filled cavity becomes a fluid-filled pocket of infection.

If you experience persistent nasal allergies, for example, the frequent inflammation may lead to blocked passages and stopped up sinuses the perfect environment for a sinus infection.

Head Injury Or Trauma

The brain plays a crucial role in processing smell, and taste, and any injury to trauma to the brain can impact your senses for a limited time. If the olfactory nerves, the nerves in the brain responsible for processing smell, are damaged, you could experience a temporary or permanent loss of smell. With time and proper treatment, your senses of smell and taste could return to normal.

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An Introduction To Your Sinuses

You have four pairs of sinuses located around your nose and eyes. These air-filled chambers vibrate, adding tonality to your speech, and the mucous membranes that line them filter the air you breathe.

The membranes, or mucosa, can produce up to a quart of mucus per day. As the mucus continually drains away down the back of your throat, it traps bacteria, germs, and viruses. The mucus also keeps your throat and nasal cavities from feeling dried out and scratchy. When you have a sinus infection, your sinus cavities swell and stop draining. The trapped mucus can become infected, causing even more congestion and inflammation, which causes further swelling and blockage. Its a vicious cycle. When this happens over and over, or happens and doesnt go away for weeks or months, you have sinusitis.

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How Long Do Symptoms Last

The Importance of Smell and Taste

Typically, a sinus infection clears up within 2 to 3 weeks. COVID-19 lasts for about a week or two depending on its severity and your overall health.

A 2020 study surveyed 270 outpatients with COVID-19. Among them, 175 people reported returning to their usual level of health about 7 days after a positive COVID-19 test.

Some symptoms like cough and loss of smell or taste may linger temporarily after COVID-19. Some people may experience long-haul COVID-19, a group of symptoms that persist in the weeks and months following an infection.

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Certain Foods And Medications

Sometimes, the bad smell coming from inside your nose isnt due to an illness.

Occasionally, tiny air particles called odorants get trapped inside your nose. Odorants from cooking certain foods or taking medications can easily bother your sense of smell later.

Eating or cooking with garlic, onion, coffee, or chillies can have such a strong smell that you feel it hours later too.

While getting rid of onion breath is relatively easy, if the smell is coming from inside your nose, youll simply have to wait it out.

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How Can I Prevent Loss Of Taste In The Future

Preventing sinus infections from developing in the first place is the best way to ensure you keep enjoying your meals.

If youre prone to seasonal allergies, make regular sinus irrigation a habit during the seasons that affect you the most.

You may also want to talk to an ENT doctor about treating your allergies more aggressively with prescription allergy medications to prevent the swelling that blocks the sinuses.

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Disorders Related To Loss Of Taste And Smell

The loss of taste and smell or changes to those senses can present in a variety of ways. The olfactory disorders are:

  • Hyposmia: A reduced ability to smell
  • Anosmia: Total loss of smell
  • Parosmia: A change to the sense of smell. An example is something that used to smell bad to you but now smells good.
  • Phantosmia: Perceiving a smell that isnt actually there
  • Ageusia: Complete loss of taste
  • Hypogeusia: Decreased sense of taste
  • Dysgeusia: Confusing different tastes
  • Phantogeusia: Tasting something that is not present

These conditions can come up for a variety of reasons and might be temporary or permanent. If you experience loss of taste or smell, its important to get to the root cause of your olfactory or taste disorder.

Tell Sinus Infection Odors Smell Ya Later With Balloon Sinuplasty

Loss of Taste and Smell: How to Get Your Senses Back

Dr. Kaplan of Kaplan Sinus Relief is a pioneer of the balloon sinuplasty procedure in Houston. His practice is currently the only private practice in the nation using TGS navigation, the state-of-the-art technology that uses augmented reality to make procedures including balloon sinuplasty safer and more accurate.

Kaplan Sinus Relief also offers patients with anxiety around procedures the option to have balloon sinuplasty with IV sedation.

Dont let your sinus infection and sinus infection odors fester and become an untreated sinus infection. Join the thousands of patients that Dr. Kaplan and the staff at Kaplan Sinus Relief have helped to breathe easier again.

To learn more about what to expect after balloon sinuplasty, call our offices at 713-766-1818 or request an appointment online today.

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What Causes Loss Of Taste And Smell How To Get It Back

Colds, sinus infections, and general congestion are the most common causes of temporary loss of smell. In most cases, your sense of smell will return as the congestion clears up. While this is the most common culprit behind the loss of taste and smell there are plenty of other conditions too that can lead to this problem.

They include:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Over-exposure to certain chemicals

As the flu or cold clears up, your sense of smell and taste should return within a few days. You must remember that some viral infections could cause permanent damage to your sense of taste. It is a grave condition, and you must consult your primary care doctor if your sense of taste and smell does not return even after you have recovered from the cold or flu.

What Are Symptoms And Treatment

Typically, youll have facial pain/pressure, headaches, nasal drainage and congestion, decreased or loss of sense of smell, tooth pain and sore throat. Treatment depends on the cause but can include medications to decrease inflammation and treat the infection. Sometimes rinsing out your sinuses can help. At home this can be done by using a nasal saline solution or Neti pot. In severe cases, you may need to be treated by an ear, nose and throat doctor.

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When You Stop To Smell The Roses And Cannot Smell A Thing

It all started with allergies or so I thought. We moved into a new house and there are all of these new plants, some more exotic, that were in full bloom when it started. The itchy watery eyes, the sneezes, the post-nasal drip..drip..drip. Too much? Nah, you hear worse over your Grand Rounds or Noon Lunch-and-Learn sessions.

But, I digress.

Then it got worse. Around 1 week later, the cough started. The body aches. The headaches. The sore throat. The influenza-like illness, or ILI, arrived with no apologies. I thought the virus had done its worst then, as I made my morning coffee, Wacky Wednesday started. I could not smell it. It seemed strange, but I thought it was just congestion. I took a sip. Hot liquid, tasteless. I rummaged through my kitchensmelling and tasting noxious things, testing my senses. Garlic? Nothing. Chili Lime seasoning? Nothing. Pepper, salt, ginger? All nothing.

I lost my sense of taste and smell.

Of course, as an ID specialist, the infections are what catch my eye.What infections can cause this? How does it happen?

All this being said, smell and taste can be a secondary impact of many common viral and bacterial infections of the head and neck. Treatment should be specific toward the underlying infection to start. Any infections that can cause mass or invasive lesions could also result in damage. Many patients will have full recovery, but for those who do not, referral to a specialist is in order for further evaluation and management.

Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection

What is Anosmia? | Loss of Smell | COVID-19 | Smell disorder | Nasal Polyps | causes | Symptoms |

Common symptoms of sinus infections may include:

  • Runny nose or cold symptoms that last longer than seven to 10 days
  • Complaints of drip in the throat from the nose
  • Keep chronic diseases under control
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Stay current on your vaccines
  • Wash your hands frequently

Melinda recommends only using reputable resources such as the CDC, OSF HealthCare or your primary care provider anytime you have questions or concerns about an illness.

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Damage To Smell Receptors Which Affect The Taste

The smell receptors happen to be situated at the roof of the nose as cilia or tiny hairs covered by a thin mucus membrane.

According to medical researchers, they detect an odor of substances by fast detecting the chemical components of the substanceâs molecules, giving rise to the ability to detect almost a trillion different odors.

The surgeon must access the nasal cavity before accessing the sinuses during sinus surgery. In the process, the smell receptors at the roof of the nasal cavity may interfere either totally or partially. Such damage may end up causing irreversible loss of the sense of smell and hence that of taste after the sinus surgery.

Therefore, it becomes imperative for surgeons to avoid damaging the smell receptors during sinus surgery. Loss of the sense of smell and hence that of taste can significantly affect the livelihood of any person.

In some people, it may even lead to stress and depression.

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Treatment For Lost Or Changed Sense Of Smell

Your sense of smell may go back to normal in a few weeks or months.

Treating the cause might help. For example, steroid nasal sprays or drops might help if you have sinusitis or nasal polyps.

A treatment called smell training can also help some people. The organisation Fifth Sense has more about how to do smell training.

Sometimes changes in sense of smell cant be treated and may be permanent.

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Loss Of Taste And Smell Treatment

How long does the loss of taste and smell last and is there anything you can do about it?

While we used to think loss of smell was permanent if it lasted more than six months, we now know that it will often recover slowly over the years, Dr. McBrien said. Treatments such as smell training can be helpful in the recovery of this important sense.

You may also be able to speed recovery by addressing the root cause. For example, your doctor may suggest steroid nasal sprays or drops to treat nasal polyps or sinusitis.

There are even some home remedies for this issue. These include smell training with pungent odors such as coffee or fresh ginger, placing drops of castor oil in your nose and using a saline rinse.

Keep in mind that working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential in the homes of people who have lost their sense of smell. They wont have the ability to detect these life-threatening situations as early as someone else.

Dr. McBrien says that if youre concerned about new or worsening loss of taste and smell, your first step should be contacting your primary care doctor. If your diagnosis requires additional follow up, you may be referred to an ENT specialist.

Next Steps and Helpful Resources

Loss Of Smell And Taste After Sinus Infection


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How Long Will It Take To Regain My Sense Of Taste

Because everyone heals at different rates, theres unfortunately no set amount of time in which you can expect to regain your senses of taste and smell. But we do know that the faster you open your sinuses and clear the infection, the faster your healing will occur. With the proper treatment, you could be enjoying that lasagna again within a few days, or it may take up to a few weeks.

Rarely, it can take several months to regain your sense of taste, but this usually results from chronic sinus infections that are harder to treat.

Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

The upper respiratory tract infections are the main reason behind the lost taste and smell during common colds and flu that result in nasal congestion. These infections are treated with over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, cough medicines, cough drops, and flu medicines.

Home remedies like nasal irrigations or nasal sprays are also effective for alleviating congestion.

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How Can Sinus Problems Affect Your Taste Buds

If you are having problems with your ability to taste or smell, you are certainly not alone. 200,000 people visit the doctor every year to address a problem with their ability to taste or smell, and sinus infections are one of the leading causes of reported loss. There are a few factors to consider when determining the nature of your acute sinusitis that require individualized treatment, but what they all have in common is that they can affect your ability to taste and smell.

A lack of ability to taste is most commonly linked to an inability to smell. Your sense of smell is activated when you chew through a channel connecting the roof of your mouth and throat to your nose. If this channel is blocked by sinus pressure, inflammation, or excess mucus, your odor receptors will not activate, and you will lose most of your ability to taste.

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