Allergic rhinitis and loss of taste and smell

Find out why allergic rhinitis may affect your sense of smell and taste


Louise Baillie
Allergies Advisor
@AVogelUK
Ask Louise

What is allergic rhinitis?

The immune system would usually ignore things like animal dander, pollen, mould spores  and dust  as these do not pose a significant threat to the body in the way that the likes of a virus would. However, when suffering from allergic rhinitis  the exact opposite is true as the immune system reacts negatively to these things and as a result, attempts to fight them off. One way of doing this is through the release of histamine – a chemical that causes all sorts of problems including inflammation and itching. There are other troublesome symptoms too though, that have further implications for the body.

Why might allergic rhinitis affect your sense of smell and taste?

Receptors on the taste buds of our tongue determine the flavour of something – be that sweet, sour, spicy or salty. This information is gathered and then sent straight to the brain where it is processed. However, taste is only generated with the help of smell which is detected by receptors found in the lining of the nose. Therefore, the two work together and if one doesn’t function properly then neither can.

As mentioned, when suffering from allergic rhinitis histamine is released by the immune system in an attempt to fight off allergens. This causes issues like inflammation which can occur all over the body, including in the nasal passages where it obstructs the flow of air. This impairs smell and, because the two are connected, it negatively affects taste too. With congestion now an issue, the tongue must do all the work in determining the taste of something and, as a result, our sense of taste is compromised. 

However, for allergic rhinitis sufferers, this isn’t the only thing that can cause loss of taste and smell. Nasal polyps, which are abnormal sacs of fluid that grow in the inside of the nose, are an unfortunate side effect of allergic rhinitis that can block air flow through the nose. Once again, the close relationship between taste and smell means that if one isn’t working properly, neither will.

What can you do?

Fortunately, if you’re suffering from this problem there are a range of things you can do to deal with it.

Address the problem of congestion – any loss of taste and smell is often caused by congestion so dealing with this issue first is a good idea. There are many ways to ease a blocked nose including steam which contains moisture and heat that can help break down mucus and soothes inflammation. A hot bath or shower, as well as hot drinks are ideal for exposing your nose to steam.

Address the problem of inflammation – inflammation is largely behind the loss of taste and smell so addressing this issue might improve your situation. One way to do this is to try an anti-inflammatory remedy such as Devil’s Claw which helps to minimise this problem. Herbal remedies are often preferred when it comes to allergic rhinitis as they don’t cause any nasty side effects that conventional medicines might.

Avoid food and drinks high in histamine – for those with allergic rhinitis histamine is also at the root of any loss in taste and smell so you’ll want to avoid giving your body more of this chemical in case it worsens the problem. This means avoiding food and drinks that are high in histamine such as caffeine, alcohol, smoked meat and cashew nuts. As an alternative, there are plenty of foods low in histamine such as eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, herbs, herbal teas and fresh chicken.

Give your immune system a hand – Echinaforce Echinacea Drops help support the immune system at a time when it is under a great deal of pressure to fight of allergens. This tincture is made from fresh Echinacea so that none of the beneficial properties are lost from the plant.

Rinse your nose with a salt water solution – this helps clear the nose of allergens that may be lurking there. A salt water solution can be purchased from a pharmacy but can also be made at home using half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, half a teaspoon of salt and one pint of boiling water. Once the solution has cooled, pour it into a neti pot. A neti pot is designed to rinse out the nose and can be useful in relieving the problem of congestion which is often behind the loss of taste and smell. A neti pot contains a set of instructions so follow these in order to rinse your nose effectively and safely.

Try some nettle tea - nettles have an antihistamine effect so these are also beneficial when you are suffering from allergic rhinitis. By addressing your body’s histamine release, you are getting to the root of your issues with taste and smell.

Up your vitamin C intake – vitamin C is a natural antihistamine so increasing your intake of foods with this could help to minimise symptoms. Such foods include citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, as well as potatoes, broccoli and strawberries.

Herbal remedies

The loss of taste and smell is often a troublesome symptom of allergic rhinitis but fortunately there are herbal remedies that may help the problem. Allergic rhinitis is caused by your body’s reaction to pollen and other allergens like animal dander so addressing this reaction should help to sort out loss of taste and smell at its root. You can do this through our range of allergic rhinitis treatments - Pollinosan.

Pollinosan Hayfever tablets are used to treat a variety of allergic rhinitis symptoms including congestion and inflammation which, as we now know, often result in loss of taste and smell. 

They are made from seven tropical herbs in order to do this quickly and effectively.

Pollinosan Nasal Spray helps soothe and cleanse the nasal passages in order to rid them of allergens that may be lurking there.

It also restores fluid in the area to make it feel more comfortable.

Conventional treatments

Loss of taste and smell is usually a short-term problem but to address the problem in the meantime, there are a few things to try.

Antihistamines help to block the release of histamine which should then ease symptoms of allergic rhinitis such as congestion. Congestion, as explained, can often result in loss of taste and smell.

Decongestants can be obtained from a pharmacist or doctor and open up the nasal passages to help you breathe easier. With air flowing more freely, the receptors in the nose that determine smell can do their job much more effectively.

Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets

120 tablets

£ 10.50

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Tablets for the relief of hayfever and allergic rhinitis. Non-drowsy. Previously known as Luffa …
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Pollinosan Luffa Nasal Spray for hayfever & allergies

Cleansing nasal spray for hayfever causing pollen and other air-borne respiratory allergens.
More info

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