Can allergies cause you to lose your sense of taste and smell?
The loss of the sense of smell, otherwise known as anosmia, often comes about as a result of an allergy, be it seasonal or otherwise. According to the charity Fifth Sense, in 70% of cases, loss of smell is caused by sino-nasal disorders and allergies.1
When the body assesses a substance such as pollen, mould, dust or animal dander, and then deems any of these things to be threatening, histamine is produced. This can result in inflammation (swelling) in the nasal passages which can hamper our sense of smell.
Soft growths inside the nose known as polyps can also be linked to allergies. These prevent odors from reaching the nerves of the olfactory system – the means by which we detect smells in the air.
Do allergies affect your taste buds?
Taste is closely linked to smell and so, if anosmia comes about as the result of an allergy, then it is likely that taste will be negatively affected as well.
Can nasal sprays damage your sense of smell?
Nasal sprays are often used to treat allergy symptoms, like congestion, which comes about as a result of inflammation. With persistent use, however, many of these products can become less effective. It is also common for an issue known as rebound rhinitis to occur where symptoms worsen after stopping use.
These are a couple of problems associated with nasal sprays, but could they actually inhibit our sense of smell as well?
To answer this question, we have to examine the ingredients of your nasal spray. In 2009, an-over-the counter nasal spray was recalled because its main ingredient (zinc) was found to cause users to lose their sense of smell.2 It is unlikely you will now find this ingredient in your nasal spray, though, and, as long as you follow the guidelines regarding how often to use the product, you shouldn’t experience any changes to your sense of smell.
If you are still concerned about this issue, however, then you may find it helpful to try a natural nasal spray such as Pollinosan. This particular product is very soothing and can be used over a prolonged period of time.
Top tips for using nasal sprays
- Only use it as long as it helps – try switching to another nasal spray if you find one to be ineffective
- Avoid using the nasal spray if you experience any side effects – headaches and poor sleep are just a couple of symptoms that can arise when using nasal sprays
- Go natural – the Pollinosan Nasal Spray contains only natural ingredients, meaning it does not cause re-bound rhinitis where symptoms worsen after stopping use.
Can you lose your sense of smell permanently?
If you experience changes to your sense of smell as a result of an allergy, then it may take a few weeks for things to return to normal. If you suffer from hayfever and the pollen levels remain elevated, for example, this will continue to cause issues.
If it takes longer than a few weeks for your sense of smell to go back to normal then I’d advise visiting your doctor.
Can your sense of taste and smell be restored?
For those with an allergy that causes changes to taste and smell, the best way to deal with the problem is to get to the root cause. If pollen triggers these issues, for example, then you should aim to minimise your exposure to this by keeping windows closed during periods of high pollen counts. Plus, you can invest in a de-humidifier and make sure to remove outdoor clothing before entering your home to avoid the spread of pollen.
Remember, you can also keep up to date with your local pollen count using our pollen forecast. It has over 30,000 locations, as well as details for grass, tree and weed pollen.
Rinsing your nose with a salt water solution helps to rinse and moisten the area, plus it removes any debris like pollen and dander. This process may also ease inflammation meaning it can improve sense of smell.
How to rinse the nose with a salt water solution:
- Boil some water and then pour into a mug
- Add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
- Allow the liquid to cool and the salt to dissolve
- Pour the liquid into a sinus rinse bottle and follow the packet instructions (you can find this online). Alternatively, use a neti pot which can also be found online.
The charity Fifth Sense, who support suffers of taste and smell disorders, also have information about smell training. This is the idea that, with practice, sense of smell can improve or be restored. You can find out more about this on the charity’s website.
Other things that cause loss of taste and smell
Now, if you aren’t an allergy sufferer but your sense of smell is reduced, there are a few other things that could be causing the problem.
- Common cold – symptoms such as a blocked nose may inhibit your sense of smell during a bout of cold. You can turn to Sinuoforce Nasal Spray in this instance to relieve the congestion and nasal catarrh
- Medication – certain medications can cause anosmia. If you have concerns about this then speak to your doctor, but do not stop taking the medication unless advised otherwise
Remember, if your sense of smell or taste is reduced long terms (i.e. more than a couple of weeks) then visit your doctor for expert advice.