Let’s be honest about this – we often take the fact that things taste so great for granted. When we lose our sense of taste, everything goes awry. Food doesn’t taste as good, we can’t enjoy the things we’re trying to eat and life just gets pretty miserable. Losing your sense of taste can be a pretty disappointing scenario although you’ll be happy to learn that, for the most part, it’s only a temporary issue.
Why Can’t I Taste Anything?
Usually the reason you have lost your sense of taste is because of a temporary sickness, something like a cold, flu or infection. When you are suffering with these, your nose becomes blocked and / or congested and this reduces the amount of air coming through your airways. Your sense of smell becomes affected by this because the scent ‘bubbles’ in the air are unable to get to the correct receptors to tell your brain what your food tastes like. Oral infections are in fact a very common reason why you can’t taste anything.
Taste and smell work together when you eat your food so without one, the other becomes practical pointless. When you have a cold and your sense of smell and taste disappear, food can become very bland and this often leads to a loss of appetite.
There are other complaints that can cause you to not taste anything. Nasal polyps, for example, can swell and causes masses on the surface of the airways which again can stop the odors from reaching the receptors, as can chronic rhinosinusitis (or CRS as it is also known), allergies, a deviated septum, and even dirt and dust which causes swelling and inflammation.
Certain medications have been known to alter the way you smell and taste and there is one medication in particular that has been known to cause this. Given to patients with congestive heart failure or high blood pressure, Captopril or Capoten often offers an altered taste-sense and it’s not the only prescription or over-the-counter medication that has that effect. Muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and more have all been shown to carry the same side effects.
Exposure to certain chemicals can also have an effect on your sense of taste and as well as paint solvents, benzene and formaldehyde can also be added to the list.
There are taste disorders which can also affect the way your food tastes in your mouth and in some cases, it can lead to the patient not being able to taste anything.
Phantom Taste Perception, for example, is a condition where the patient is sure they can taste something in their mouth even when there is nothing there.
Hypogeusia is another condition which, although temporary, can affect the way the patient tastes salty, sweet, sour and bitter foods.
Ageusia is quite a rare condition which normally comes after a head trauma or similar event. The patient is unable to taste (and occasionally smell) anything at all. Viral infections, middle ear surgery, molar extraction and even radiation therapy.
In very serious cases and again, very rare cases, the reason why you can’t taste anything could be down to a more serious medical issue such as a nutritional deficiency, a disorder of your endocrine system or even a tumor, cancerous or otherwise. If the problem persists for more than a couple of days, or you don’t seem to have your sense of taste back after the cold, flu or infection has passed, it is well worth seeking medical assistance to ensure nothing else is causing it.
How To Fix It
If you can’t taste anything and you think it might be down to a common cold or flu, it’s well worth taking care of yourself for a couple of days and waiting for it all to blow over. As much as you don’t want to eat, you should make sure you are still consuming fresh, good-quality food with plenty of nutritional content and you should also make sure you’re drinking enough fluids too. Water helps to flush out the bad stuff in your body so when you are sick, that’s the first thing you should do – drink more water!
A hot bath with a few drops of eucalyptus or menthol essential oils added to it can help to unblock your nose which can bring your sense of taste back quicker, and you could also dry using a decongestant rub on your chest and just under your nose, especially as you sleep. Alternatively, a nasal spray might give you quicker relief on the go and when you need it the most.
During the winter when the heating is on and your home is dry, add a humidifier to the mix to keep the air moist. When the air is dry, your nasal tissue can easily become dry and cracked and this can lead to inflammation and irrigation which again, could lead to you not being able to taste anything. By ensuring the air is somewhat moist around you, you can help to reduce the risks.
If the problem carries on for longer than a couple of days, or you are experiencing other abnormal symptoms alongside it, make sure you speak to your doctor to rule out anything more serious. If it’s only a two or three-day thing, there’s probably nothing to worry about.
Image source: stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net