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Abnormal Sense of Taste & Smell

What are the symptoms of abnormal sense of taste and smell?

Abnormal sense of smell can refer to either a decreased or absent sense of smell, smelling odors that are not really present, or the inability to identify odors. These can significantly affect quality of life for a patient, causing anxiety and decreased enjoyment of food. Changes in taste and smell can occasionally be dangerous for patients, such as when you cannot smell smoke or other warning odors.

What causes abnormal sense of taste and smell?

The most common causes of smell disorders are nasal and/or sinus disease, viral upper respiratory infections, and head trauma. The most common causes of taste disorders are upper respiratory tract infections and head injuries. Other infrequent causes of both include masses in the nasal or oral passageways, endocrine problems, side effects from medications, and degenerative processes of the brain.

How are these diseases diagnosed?

The first step in diagnosis is a thorough history and physical examination. It is important to provide information to your doctor regarding respiratory illnesses, nasal or sinus symptoms, history of trauma, other medical conditions, and medication use.

What are the treatments of taste and smell disorders?

Treatments of taste and smell disorders are directed towards the underlying cause. Nasal or sinus conditions should be managed with either medication or surgical therapy, depending on the severity of the disease. Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism should be treated appropriately. Medications that may be causing the smell and/or taste disturbance can sometimes be substituted with another medication.

Call us for an Appointment

To find a head and neck specialist for your needs, contact the Head & Neck Institute at 216.444.8500 (or toll-free 1.800.223.2273, ext. 48500)

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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