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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Loss of smell and taste

01/15/2010

Question:

i am allergic to housedust mite, i lost my sense of smell about 20 years ago, i cannot taste food, i was told about a doctor in cyprus which i attended and he gave me a steroid injection and tablets for one month only, also a nasal steroid spray, i suddenly smelt after about 10 days or so, and i could also taste i was so happy, unfortunately it did not last. I have been back to cyprus several times to visit family, and have noticed that in the winter about 2 weeks after i arrive my smell has come back 3 times, but more or less after coming back to england the smell and taste goes away again, i am wondering why this is, its not as though i was born not smelling, my smell is somewhere and i need to find it on a more permanent level, it makes such a difference to my life when i can smell and taste food, please help im desperate, thanks for your help

Answer:

The fact that your ability to smell fluctuates suggests you have an obstructive problem high in the nose that blocks odors from reaching the smell receptors.  Steroid medication decreases swelling and obstruction, and this presumably allows you to smell.  However, long term use of such medication taken systemically can have serious side effects.  I suggest you consult an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician who can perform a thorough examination of your nose and sinuses.  If indeed you have a chronic inflammatory problem causing obstruction, they should be able to recommend appropriate treatment.

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Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati