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Can't taste or smell anything

gildeddawn May 2, 2014 11:23 AM

I had a bad cold this week, and I'm mostly over it, though I still have a little sinus pressure and nose-blowing.

At this point, I can breathe through my nose well enough, but I still can't taste or smell ANYTHING. I'd put it at pretty much completely zero.

Anyone ever had this happen? I want to think it's just going to go away, but it's really freaking me out.

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    UTgal RE: gildeddawn May 2, 2014 11:26 AM

    I've had that happen a few times and it's so weird!

    It'll go away eventually. Get well soon!

    1 Reply
    1. re: UTgal
      gildeddawn RE: UTgal May 2, 2014 11:37 AM

      I hope so - nice to hear it's happened to someone else and gotten better!

    2. greygarious RE: gildeddawn May 2, 2014 11:26 AM

      That's EXTREMELY common. No worries, it won't last.

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious
        gildeddawn RE: greygarious May 2, 2014 11:36 AM

        Thanks! It's nice to get some words of encouragement!

      2. mcsheridan RE: gildeddawn May 2, 2014 11:26 AM

        That's something you'll want to check out with your doctor. It is possible for a virus to rob you of your sense of smell. And smell is closely associated with taste.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mcsheridan
          gildeddawn RE: mcsheridan May 2, 2014 11:40 AM

          I figure I'll go to the doc when it's been a while longer, if there's no improvement. I'm sure the taste thing is a direct result of the smell loss, as you say, and I've found a lot online about viruses causing smell loss, so all that makes sense.

          I was just also looking for examples of temporary issues that resolved, to see if anyone had had that experience, as well. (And to try and make myself feel less anxious about it.)

          1. re: gildeddawn
            nothingswrong RE: gildeddawn May 2, 2014 12:09 PM

            It is common. I recall someone posting a similar thread last fall, losing his/her smell and taste for a month or more but it came back eventually. Good luck. In the meantime, maybe it will be more enjoyable for you to eat textures you enjoy, like crunching on apples and salads.

        2. b
          Bellachefa RE: gildeddawn May 2, 2014 11:29 AM

          bit into a scotch bonnet chili pepper and report back.

          1. ninrn RE: gildeddawn May 2, 2014 11:46 AM

            If you like spicy food, call your best local Thai place and tell them you've had a bad cold and a need a strong, hot Tom Yum soup -- ask for lots of ginger, lime and chili. Most Thai chefs know just how to tweak it for sick people. If you're doing take-out, heat it up and drink it as hot as you can stand once you get home. It will clear your sinuses and help get your taste buds going again.

            1. jw615 RE: gildeddawn May 2, 2014 02:05 PM

              Like everyone else has said, this is pretty common with a cold or allergy issues. It is also a known side effect if you happened to treat your sickness with any zinc-containing medications.

              1. b
                beevod RE: gildeddawn May 2, 2014 04:19 PM

                It's all in your head.

                1 Reply
                1. re: beevod
                  mcsheridan RE: beevod May 2, 2014 04:44 PM

                  Or not, as the absence indicates. Hoping for the best for the OP.

                2. daislander RE: gildeddawn May 2, 2014 04:47 PM

                  lol yes! It happened to me last year. I was smelling a bottle of eucalyptus oil and couldn't smell anything!! No taste either not even heat from chills it was insane. I was freaked the f out. Couple days later came back slowly.

                  1. h
                    Harters RE: gildeddawn May 3, 2014 02:17 PM

                    My friend lost his sense of smell. Eventually went to the doctor and he now knows he's got two brain tumours. Surgery is scheduled for July.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Harters
                      lamb_da_calculus RE: Harters May 16, 2014 06:33 PM

                      ...although it's worth pointing out that in this case it's much more likely to be due to the cold than to brain tumors.

                    2. g
                      gildeddawn RE: gildeddawn May 3, 2014 04:34 PM

                      No change yet. Emailed the doc and she said to do a sinus rinse twice a day, and if it's not back in two weeks (!) she'll refer me to an ENT.

                      I hate waiting. And not tasting anything. I mean, first world problems, I guess, but, just like everyone on these boards - I really like food!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: gildeddawn
                        vil RE: gildeddawn May 4, 2014 10:31 AM

                        Not discounting the annoyance of losing taste and smell for a week or two, as someone who loves food... Just be grateful when you regain those senses, because there are people who lose them permanently (more or less), after a very bad round of those infections.

                        1. re: vil
                          gildeddawn RE: vil May 4, 2014 11:31 AM

                          Well, frankly, that's what I'm afraid might be happening. I hope to god it's not, but I guess I have to wait and see.

                          1. re: gildeddawn
                            vil RE: gildeddawn May 5, 2014 08:03 AM

                            AFAIK, unless you have a good reason to believe you have a compromised immune system that may result in taking much longer than average to recover (say, months instead of weeks), I believe you are fine. It is the infection in the sinuses that goes on for an extended period of time that causes the longer lasting, sometimes permanent, loss of smell.

                            Without worrying too much, it is still good advice to practise reasonable self-care to recover soon.

                      2. LMAshton RE: gildeddawn May 5, 2014 01:58 AM

                        Yup. It lasted for a month or two for both myself and the husband. We've also previously had broken salt meters (we required about double the salt due to catching chikungunya) that lasted about a year and comes back every now and then.

                        It totally sucks. You have my sympathy.

                        1. f
                          fk0528 RE: gildeddawn May 9, 2014 06:10 AM

                          I have been having the same issues. It has been two weeks and I am miserable. I feel like a visit to the ENT is in my future. I hope your sense of smell and taste return.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: fk0528
                            gildeddawn RE: fk0528 May 9, 2014 11:57 AM

                            Let me know what happens - I still don't have mine back, either. I'm still having sinus symptoms, though, so I'm not ready to go to the ENT yet.

                            I feel your pain - and nobody seems to realize how horrible it is not to taste anything. But rest assured that, I, at least, do.

                            1. re: fk0528
                              gildeddawn RE: fk0528 May 15, 2014 12:27 PM

                              I think we're in the same boat now - 16 days and I'm about to get an ENT referral from my doc. Definitely miserable.

                              1. re: gildeddawn
                                vil RE: gildeddawn May 15, 2014 12:34 PM

                                I totally understand the pain, but do not want to be accused of offering medical advice on a food forum ;-)

                                I am considering starting a thread on how to enjoy food despite a compromised sense of smell. There are a few things that can help somewhat.

                                1. re: vil
                                  LMAshton RE: vil May 15, 2014 05:40 PM

                                  Since this has happened to both my husband and I twice now (once for a year (and intermittently for weeks or a month or so at a time) with only our salt meter destroyed, once for a month or two with every taste gone), I'm interested. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens to us again. And again.

                                  1. re: vil
                                    gildeddawn RE: vil May 16, 2014 11:57 AM

                                    Well, I wasn't really looking for medical advice - just anecdotal reports of similar situations.

                                    But yes, a thread on ideas for how best to cope with it, and what foods are relatively unaffected, might be helpful.

                                    1. re: gildeddawn
                                      LMAshton RE: gildeddawn May 16, 2014 06:15 PM

                                      I wasn't thinking about medical advice. I was thinking about ideas on how to cope with it better.

                                      When we had just the salt meter broken, we'd need about double the salt as everyone else. That was manageable - when other people would be eating the food I'd cook, I'd leave the salting to them entirely.

                                      But when we couldn't taste anything at all, it was miserable. There was *no* flavour of anything. No smell. Everything tasted like cardboard. That was awful. If there are ways of dealing with that better, I'm all ears. :)

                                      1. re: LMAshton
                                        vil RE: LMAshton May 17, 2014 09:37 AM

                                        I really meant "lifestyle advice that is not food-related" :-) You have my sympathy.

                                        My family doctor once told me to try eating lots of soup or broth made with meat and bones, to help getting over a tough cold. I was surprised at that time, coming from a doctor. That was years ago and turned out to be one of the best pieces of advice for that purpose.

                                        Lifestyle advice is best left to other sites:
                                        Look under Lifestyle and Nutrition.

                                        I promise I will say no more on that :-


                                        BTW what do you mean by a broken salt meter? Do you mean ability to taste saltiness? If so, that seems odd, because the basic tastes (salt, sweet, sour etc.) are typically unaffected by a lack of sense of smell.

                                        1. re: vil
                                          LMAshton RE: vil May 17, 2014 05:51 PM

                                          The husband and I both came down with chikungunya, which is a mosquito-borne illness similar to dengue fever. One of the rare but known side effects of chikungunya is that salt sensitivity changes. Both of us couldn't taste salt for a year. We needed twice as much salt - at least - for food to taste normal. Every now and then, it comes back, along with the bone pain. Symptoms from chikungunya coming back for years is common enough in adults.

                                          1. re: LMAshton
                                            vil RE: LMAshton May 21, 2014 11:51 AM

                                            I see, thanks. Such a strange disease. I learn something new every day!

                                    2. re: vil
                                      MrsPatmore RE: vil May 16, 2014 06:23 PM

                                      《I totally understand the pain, but do not want to be accused of offering medical advice on a food forum ;-)》

                                      Wow. The voice of reason is heard on a CH forum! I wish certain other posters shared your point of view. It's beyond tiresome at this point - posters who have admittedly no professional qualifications dispensing *medical* advice right and left.

                                      1. re: MrsPatmore
                                        vil RE: MrsPatmore May 17, 2014 09:04 AM

                                        Actually what I meant was, I was about to offer advice on self care that in my experience consistently helped with getting over sinus problems.. and then realize this is a community about food :-)

                                        I paid a big price before realizing that self care and food can contribute significantly to health and recovering from illnesses, and to me, these are as natural a part of my lifestyle as preparing food for sustenance and enjoyment. Sometimes it is hard to draw the line between these aspects.

                                        At CH, I notice that people are fine with discussion on food for sustenance and pleasure, but some have strong sentiments (either way) with discussion on food for health.

                                        1. re: vil
                                          MrsPatmore RE: vil May 17, 2014 09:18 AM

                                          I share your opinions about the connection between food and health! We are what we eat (literally). But, as you point out, this is a food forum. I really wish that the mods would do more to keep the free *medical* advice off this site. There are tons of other sites where those conversations can and should happen. CH isn't one of them IMHO.

                                    3. re: gildeddawn
                                      UTgal RE: gildeddawn May 15, 2014 04:53 PM

                                      16 days? Oh my. I came back into this thread hoping for a "it cleared up in a few days!" updated. :-(

                                      Good luck at the doctor.

                                      1. re: UTgal
                                        Bellachefa RE: UTgal May 15, 2014 05:54 PM

                                        I agree. Best wishes to you~

                                  2. lamb_da_calculus RE: gildeddawn May 16, 2014 06:34 PM

                                    I had this happen about a week ago when I ate a few tablespoons of raw galangal in the spirit of thoroughly understanding an ingredient. It lasted about three days and then started coming back gradually over the course of another three days. But it was really odd while it was gone - even drinking water was somehow unpleasant.

                                    1. g
                                      gildeddawn RE: gildeddawn Jun 27, 2014 12:40 PM

                                      In case anyone comes back to this thread, or finds it in search and wants an update:

                                      I'm sorry to report that, two months and two ENT appointments later, the situation is virtually unchanged - except that last week I also started experiencing "phantom smells" - in my case, a strong smell of cigarette smoke all the time. (That's pretty much gone after a few days, thank goodness.)

                                      The verdict from the ENT is that the bad cold I had has caused damage to my olfactory nerve. He said there's a possibility I may regain some or even most of the sensation, but there's also a good chance I won't. Apparently waiting six months before reevaluation is the usual procedure at this point. In other words, I've basically been told to wait and see, but not to get my hopes up.

                                      To anyone who's looking for comfort on this thread, I'm afraid I can't offer it to you. The rest of you - appreciate what you've got, because losing it is pretty devastating.

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: gildeddawn
                                        mcsheridan RE: gildeddawn Jun 27, 2014 02:39 PM

                                        I'm so sorry it's worked out that way. Sadly, the phenomena of phantom smells rarely involves daisies or peaches - it's the odd/nasty stuff that makes an appearance.

                                        Good of you to update here. I'm probably not the only one who's been checking in.

                                        1. re: gildeddawn
                                          mcsheridan RE: gildeddawn Jun 27, 2014 04:50 PM

                                          Replying again 'cause it's too late to edit my previous. You might want to visit this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/976023

                                          1. re: mcsheridan
                                            gildeddawn RE: mcsheridan Jun 27, 2014 07:09 PM

                                            Thank you for the link - I appreciate both your kind words and your help.

                                          2. re: gildeddawn
                                            Bellachefa RE: gildeddawn Jun 27, 2014 05:02 PM

                                            so sorry to hear things have yet to take a turn for the better.

                                            1. re: gildeddawn
                                              JoanN RE: gildeddawn Jun 27, 2014 05:03 PM

                                              If you take a look at the link mcsheridan posted above, you'll see my post on my experience with anosmia. I think I can offer some comfort. My anosmia lasted a year, but once my sense of smell returned, and it did, it returned for good. Don't give up hope yet. Yes, it's devastating while you're experiencing it, but there's good reason to believe it won't be permanent.

                                              1. re: JoanN
                                                gildeddawn RE: JoanN Jun 27, 2014 07:10 PM

                                                I hope you're right, and that it comes back eventually. I'm glad yours did, and I'm sure it was a huge relief.

                                                1. re: JoanN
                                                  gildeddawn RE: JoanN Jun 28, 2014 01:54 PM

                                                  Can I also ask - when your sense of smell and taste came back, was it gradual or fast? In other words, how long, from some improvement, did it take to return to its current level?

                                                  1. re: gildeddawn
                                                    JoanN RE: gildeddawn Jun 28, 2014 02:31 PM

                                                    As I mentioned in that other post, I was just walking down the street and suddenly smelled garlic coming from a pizza parlor. Once that happened, my sense of taste returned quite quickly. Don't remember exactly, since this was about 10 year ago now. But I don't recall it being a long, drawn out process. It was suddenly gone, and then fourteen months later it was almost as suddenly back.

                                                    1. re: gildeddawn
                                                      vil RE: gildeddawn Jun 29, 2014 02:48 PM

                                                      Interesting how experiences can be so different.

                                                      I was told mine was from nerve damage too, and once the offending infection was eliminated, my sense of smell started coming back as predicted by the ENT. But for me, it had been a painfully slow process, with some smells coming back much faster than others (nasty smells such as cigarette smoke and perfume!) It has been 3 years, some of the food smells are somewhat back while others are barely.

                                                  2. re: gildeddawn
                                                    LMAshton RE: gildeddawn Jun 27, 2014 05:56 PM

                                                    That just royally sucks. I'm so sorry. :(

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