Sinusitis Can Cause Loss Of Smell And Taste
According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 12% of all American adults suffer with sinusitis which equates to over 30 million people. If you havent heard of the term previously, it actually refers to inflammation within the sinuses and the main symptoms include a plugged nose, thick nasal mucus, sore throat, headaches, and a cough . However, theres also another symptom that can come from sinusitis loss of smell and taste.
What Causes Loss Of Taste & Smell And How To Get Them Back
Colds, sinus infections, and general congestion are the most common causes of temporary loss of smell. Typically, your sense of smell will return as your congestion clears up. While this is the most common offender, there are plenty of other issues that can lead to loss of smell or taste. These include:
- Over-exposure to certain chemicals
- Upper Respiratory Infection
Most commonly, upper respiratory infections are the cause of loss of smell and taste. This includes common colds and flus which cause nasal congestion.
Upper respiratory infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, decongestants, cough medicines, cough drops, and flu medicines. Home remedies like nasal irrigations or nasal sprays may also help alleviate congestion.
As your cold or flu clears up, your smell and taste should return within a few days, though some viral infections can cause permanent damage to your sense of taste.
Cleaning Inside Your Nose Can Help
Rinsing the inside of your nose with a saltwater solution may help if your sense of smell is affected by an infection or allergy.
You can make a saltwater solution at home.
You do not need to use all of the solution, but make a fresh batch each day do not reuse any left over from the day before.
Some pharmacies sell sachets you can use to make a saltwater solution and devices to help you rinse your nose.
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How Long Does Loss Of Taste And Smell Last With A Sinus Infection
As we mentioned, your sense of taste is heavily linked to your sense of smell. Usually, a loss of taste is actually a loss of smell presenting itself elsewhere. Luckily, loss of taste from a sinus infection usually subsides when the infection itself clears up.
The tricky thing is that sinus infections can be chronic. A chronic sinus infection requires treatment that is more involved than using a nasal rinse or antibiotics. Chronic sinusitis complications can require much more immediate medical attention and cause permanent damage to your sense of taste and smell if left untreated.
The chronic inflammation experienced with a sinus infection can also cause swollen nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are non-cancerous growths that appear in the nose, increasing your risk of rhinitis, sinus infections, bad allergies, and of course, a loss of taste and smell. If you have been experiencing chronic sinusitis symptoms seek medical attention and schedule an appointment to see an ENT as soon as possible.
How Does Loss Of Smell Happen
The nerves responsible for detecting smell are located high and deep inside the nose. When you have a cold or sinusitis, your nose fills with mucus and causes swelling. Because of this mucus and inflammation, the smell cant reach the top of the nasal cavity this results in a total or a partial loss of smell.
Is There A Difference Between Taste And Flavor
Yes. The basic tastes are salty, sweet, bitter and sour. Flavor involves taste and smell. For example, because a person is able to smell a chocolate bar while eating it, the chocolate not only tastes sweet but also has the flavor of chocolate. Chocolate candy might not taste as good if you have a cold and a stuffy nose.
What Effects Does A Loss Of Sense Of Smell Have
Individuals with anosmia might lose interest in eating and food which could lead to weight loss and malnutrition.
When you have anosmia, you should ensure you have functioning smoke alarms in your home in various locations. You should also be careful with the use of natural gas and with food storage since you might have issues detecting gas leaks and spoiled food.
Some suggested precautions are:
Label all foods with expiration dates properly
Use electric appliances
Read labels on chemicals like insecticides and kitchen cleaners
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Other Factors To Consider
In any of these situations mentioned above, if OTC treatments do not provide rapid improvement in symptoms, seeing an ENT specialist can help differentiate between the various conditions that may be causing smell loss.
Your age as well as how long you have had symptoms of smell loss before seeking treatment, no matter what the cause, are the two main factors affecting your ability to regain your sense of smell. Therefore, if your smell does not return quickly, you should see an ENT specialist as soon as possible.
For those with loss of smell, there are safety concerns that should be considered, such as making sure all smoke detectors are working properly installing natural gas or propane leak alarms if there are gas appliances, fireplaces, furnaces, or water heaters in the home and checking food expiration dates.
What Are The Key Differences Between The Two Infections
Typically with a sinus infection, you’ll have that telltale congestion, facial and/or ear pressure, and mucus, but you wont see all the other physical symptoms that you do with COVID-19 , says Dr. Shanker-Patel. “Symptoms of a rhinosinusitis are mostly centered around the upper respiratory tract,” she adds.
That being said, “Many of the symptoms are very similar and, for this reason, it is most appropriate to talk to your health care provider if you develop any symptoms of either,” Dr. Shanker-Patel adds.
To make things even more complicated, you can have a sinus infection and COVID-19. “The two are not mutually exclusive. You can have both at the same time, and that’s where things become tricky,” says Dr. Del Signore. “The thing that sets apart is really those systems systematic changesthe fevers, the total body chills and intense fatigue, and a dense loss of smell and taste.”
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Important To See Your Doctor
When a sinus infection develops and causes jaw pain or headaches, it is important to see your doctor to make sure it isnt a sign of an underlying sinus problem. If it is, it may be necessary to have surgery to clear up the infection and remove the swelling. If you have structural/base abnormalities, it could lead to bone spurs that form in your teeth. These will also cause severe headaches that are often mistaken as sinusitis infection symptoms. Home remedies can help alleviate some of the pain, but they wont get rid of structural/base problems.
Can You Smell And Taste A Sinus Infection
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 can’t reach the top of the nose. Sometimes, the inflammation presses down on the nervous system, impacting the signal that triggers taste and smell.
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Do I Have Covid Or A Sinus Infection
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.
What Can I Expect If I Have Anosmia
If youve been diagnosed with anosmia, your healthcare provider can help manage your symptoms until your sense of smell is restored.
How long can anosmia last?
It depends on the underlying cause of your anosmia. Most of the time, your sense of smell returns once treatment is complete.
How long is anosmia after COVID?
People who have anosmia as a COVID-19 side effect usually regain their sense of smell in approximately two to three weeks. This is an estimate recovery times can vary.
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The Many Faces Of Sinusitis
Sinusitis can develop for many reasons. For example, congestion in your sinuses is often part and parcel of an upper respiratory infection, such as the cold or flu. As well, allergies can wreak havoc on your sinuses, leading to inflammation that blocks your mucus.
Sinus issues that are chronic, meaning they last three months or more, can be brought about by ongoing problems with allergies or structural issues, like a deviated septum or nasal polyps.
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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Smell Loss Related To Colds Allergies Sinus Issues And Covid
Anosmia is the lack of sense of smell and frequently goes hand in hand with the lack of taste. Since the smell receptors are in the upper portion of the nose, anything that can prevent air from reaching these smell receptors can affect your ability to smell. The receptors are located on both sides of the nose, so complete blockage of both your nasal passages may lead to loss of smell, but blockage of one side or the other can also cause this in some people.
Usually, when your nasal breathing improves, so does your sense of smell. Although congestion and obstruction are often the cause of smell issues, there are several other reasons not related to nasal obstruction why people can lose their sense of smell, including recent or repetitive head injury, a viral cold, COVID-19 infections, and many others including chronic nasal and sinus conditions, such as polyps.
Your Sense Of Taste Is Connected With Your Sense Of Smell
If your sense of taste is dulled because of a sinus infection, chances are that your sense of smell has become blunted too!
Remarkably, the sense of smell governs about 80% of what you and I taste.
So, in the absence of your sense of smell, your taste buds are limited to the five main sensations. These include, sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.
Aside from these, every other flavor we experience, itâs because of our sense of smell.
Suffice it to say, the sense of taste is somewhat linked to the sense of smell. They perform their distinct roles, though.
Thus, your taste buds simply aid in telling the difference between tastes. The nerves in your nose, on the other hand, aid in the identification of smell/odor.
Regardless of their functions, the olfactory region within your noise controls both senses of taste/smell.
So, anytime you ingest food/drink, the two senses kick into action. Upon chewing, odor molecules are transported to the back of the nose.
Subsequently, your taste sensors pick the flavor of the food, communicating to you whether itâs sweet, salty, sour, or bitter.
On the other hand, your sense of smell allows you to savor the foodâs aroma. In addition, it helps you to figure out the specifics.
Therefore, it enables you to tell if that sweet taste is one of a grape or an apple.
As a result, itâs crucial to take steps to get your sense of taste and smell back as quickly as possible.
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About Author: David Pruitt
David Pruitt is a writer for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare. He has a bachelors of journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and worked as a reporter before joining OSF HealthCare in 2014. An avid golfer and fisherman, David was born and raised Alton, Illinois, which is where he currently resides with his son, James.
Loss Of Taste And Smell: Is It Covid
These days a sudden loss of taste and smell is a cause for alarm. Of course, the first thing that jumps to mind is the potential of having COVID-19.
The good news is that COVID-19 isnt the only disease that can lead to a loss of taste and smell. Other potentially less serious issues could be the reason, too.
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Signs Of A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection is something you want to deal with right away to prevent it from escalating. However, its not easy to discern between the different symptoms and what they mean. After all, an infection manifests itself in a similar way to the flu or a cold, so you cant always act decisively.
With that in mind, here are some signs you have a sinus infection and should see an ear, nose and throat doctor.
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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What The Doctor Does
Doctors first ask questions about the person’s symptoms and medical history and then do a physical examination. What doctors find during the history and physical examination often suggests a cause and the tests that may need to be done .
Doctors ask about onset and duration of anosmia and its relation to any cold, bout of flu, or head injury. They note other symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose and whether any nasal discharge is watery, bloody, thick, or foul-smelling. Doctors seek out any neurologic symptoms, especially those that involve a change in mental status or the cranial nerves . Questions about the person’s medical history involve sinus disorders, head injury or surgery, allergies, drugs used, and exposure to chemicals or fumes.
During the physical examination, doctors inspect the nasal passages for swelling, inflammation, discharge, and polyps. Doctors also do a complete neurologic examination that is particularly focused on mental status and the cranial nerves.
What Can I Do About This Problem
If a medicine causes the problem, you might ask your doctor if you can stop taking the medicine or take a different medicine. Then you might be able to taste and smell again.
If you have an infection or an allergy, treatment might help.
A few people lose the ability to smell or taste forever. But, it’s still possible to improve the appeal of food. Your doctor can give you tips for fixing food in ways that increase your enjoyment.
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How A Sinus Infection Happens
Colds can progress to become sinus infections, but not all sinus infections are viral. Bacteria and even allergies also can cause sinus infections.
A sinus infection occurs when the sinus lining becomes inflamed, preventing the sinuses from draining, he says. The trapped mucous becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to a sinus infection.
Conditions that may make you more likely to get a sinus infection include:
- Nasal polyps .
- Immunodeficiencies .
How Do Doctors Treat Sinus Infections
One the diagnosis is made, the typical treatment for sinus infection is antibiotics to clear up the bacteria causing the sinus infection. Although, the overuse of antibiotics is a cause for concern, so many doctors will prescribe these medications if your symptoms extend beyond seven to 10 days.
Your doctor may also prescribe a topical nasal corticosteroid to reverse the swelling in the sinuses. Finally, over-the-counter medications to help you cope with the daily symptoms of a sinus infection while the medications begin to do their work.
Some of the typical over-the-counter symptom relievers include:
- Antihistamines can block the inflammation that swells your sinus passages
- Nasal decongestant sprays can be used on a limited basis
- Nasal saline washes can clear out heavy mucus
- Topical nasal corticosteroids
Sinus infections can last for several weeks, or if they are chronic, for even longer. If youre feeling ill, its a good idea to reach out to your doctor for treatment. Your clinical team can diagnose, and treat your illness to make you more comfortable and help you heal.Oviedo Medical Research specializes in Phase II through IV clinical trials designed to yield the medications and vaccines that doctors depend on. If youre interested in joining us for a clinical trial, contact us.
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