Causes and Diagnoses
Causes and Diagnoses of Smell and Taste Disturbances
Smell and taste disturbances may be congenital (present at birth), but most are related to the presence of disease or other conditions, including:
- Cold, flu, allergy or sinus infection
- Salivary gland disease
- Nasal polyps
- Concussion or head injury
- Seizure disorder
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Dental decay
- Dry mouth
- Vitamin deficiency
- Illegal drugs snorted through the nose
- Radiation therapy to the head or neck
- Bell palsy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cranial base tumor
Diagnosing smell and taste disturbances
Along with a complete medical history and physical exam, other test may include:
- Scratch and sniff test: You may be asked to smell and identify various substances on cards specifically designed for smell and taste disturbances.
- Sip, spit and rinse test: You may taste substances or they may be applied directly to your tongue to measure your ability to detect them.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: If polyps or tumors are suspected, this test combines X-ray and computer technology to produce detailed cross-sectional images.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: This test creates detailed images using a large magnet, a computer and radiofrequencies. Unlike computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans or X-rays, MRI does not use radiation.
- Endoscopy: An endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end) is inserted through your nostrils and progressed through your nasal passages and sinuses.