Can Allergies Cause Loss of Taste or Smell?

Allergies are difficult to suffer through, whether they are seasonal or triggered by something else. They can cause all kinds of symptoms, and sometimes you might be unsure whether an issue is caused by your allergies or something else. 

Your nose, throat, and sinuses are often affected. So when you experience a loss of taste or smell, you might suspect that it’s caused by your allergies.

Can Allergies Cause Loss of Taste?

Allergies can cause a loss of taste. However, the main reason for this is not that your taste buds are directly affected. When you experience a loss of taste when you have allergies, what happens is that your sense of smell is affected first. 

So when you are experiencing hay fever or your allergies have been triggered, you might find that food or drink tastes a bit strange or even feel like you can’t taste much of anything. You can find that stronger-tasting foods are easier to taste than things that are more subtle.

Why Allergies Cause a Loss of Taste

Much of your ability to taste is made up of your ability to smell. So if you have a lack of smell (anosmia), it can mean that your sense of taste is also reduced. It’s fairly common for people with allergic rhinitis to have smell and taste disorders, although there isn’t a clear connection between the two.

Can Allergies Cause a Loss of Smell?

Allergies can also cause a loss of smell. In fact, you’re more likely to experience both a loss of taste and smell than just to experience a loss of taste. But a reduction in your ability to taste might be more noticeable to you, even though it’s caused by losing your sense of smell. It can be easier to notice that something tastes off than it is to pick up on not being able to smell something you would usually smell.

Why Allergies Cause a Loss of Smell

Allergies cause a loss of your sense of smell because they interrupt your olfactory receptors. Olfactory receptors are cells in your upper nasal cavity that are important for your sense of smell and taste. You might have heard “olfactory” used to describe things related to smelling and odors. When you sniff or inhale, the olfactory receptors are stimulated and they transmit information via your sensory nervous system.

Your sense of smell can be disrupted when you have allergies because of inflamed or blocked sinuses, which block the olfactory receptors.

What Else Can Cause a Loss of Taste and Smell?

Allergies aren’t the only health problem that might cause a lack of taste or smell. Other causes are also possible, so don’t assume it’s allergies when it could be something else. You can find your sense of smell and taste are affected when you have a cold or the flu. Other nasal problems such as sinusitis or nasal polyps could be the cause of the problem.

Aging is also a possible cause of loss of smell and taste. Some loss of smell can occur naturally as you get older. People who smoke can lose their sense of smell and taste, and some medications can also cause the issue. Dental problems or injuries may also be a factor in a loss of taste and smell. Diseases of the central nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, can involve loss of smell and taste too.

Could It Be Covid?

A lack of smell and taste has been one of the most talked-about symptoms of COVID-19. It was highlighted as one of the most distinctive symptoms to help distinguish it from other infections. However, if you experience a loss of taste or smell, it isn’t necessarily due to a COVID-19 infection. Being aware of the other symptoms and getting tested will help you to determine whether it is.

How to Identify What Is Causing Your Loss of Taste and Smell

The first thing to do to identify what is causing your loss of taste and smell is to take a taste for COVID-19. You can typically use either lateral flow tests or PCR tests. A negative test may not guarantee that you don’t have it, but it can be one way to start ruling it out.

Consider your other symptoms, your lifestyle, and anything that might have changed. If you are experiencing other allergy symptoms, such as a blocked or runny nose, itchiness, or streaming eyes, you might be confident that it’s allergies. Or you might have typical cold symptoms. Perhaps you recently experienced an injury to your nose or head, or maybe you’re a smoker. However, the best thing to do is see a doctor if you’re not sure what could be causing your loss of taste and smell.

How to Treat Loss of Taste and Smell

The best way to treat a loss of taste and smell is to find out the underlying cause and the right treatment for it. In many cases, you will regain your smell and taste when your sinuses clear or inflammation is reduced. However, some people who have had COVID-19 experienced damage to their olfactory receptors from the virus. This might require treatment to help restore the function of these nerve endings.

When to See a Doctor

See a doctor if you need help managing your allergies or if you’re not sure what might be causing your loss of taste and smell. A doctor can discuss your symptoms for you and help you to find out the cause of your change in smell and taste, as well as prescribe the right treatment.

Get Help from an Online Doctor

Are you short on time or unable to make it to the doctor’s office? An online doctor is a perfect solution when you need to see a medical professional. You can attend a virtual consultation without having to inconvenience yourself.

Key Takeaways

  • Allergies can cause both a loss of your sense of taste and sense of smell
  • It’s usually caused by olfactory receptors being blocked or damaged
  • Loss of taste and smell can be caused by a number of other things too
  • COVID-19 could be a possible cause – it’s important to get tested
  • See a doctor to diagnose the issue and find the best treatment

Sources:

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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