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:

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.