Some loss of taste and smell is natural with aging, especially after age 60. However, other factors can contribute to loss of taste and smell, including:
- Nasal and sinus problems, such as allergies, sinusitis or nasal polyps
- Certain medications, including beta blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Dental problems
- Cigarette smoking
- Head or facial injury or mass
- Alzheimer's disease
- Parkinson's disease
Loss of taste and smell can have a significant impact on quality of life, often leading to decreased appetite and poor nutrition. Sometimes loss of taste and smell contributes to depression. Loss of taste and smell also might tempt you to use excess salt or sugar on your food to enhance the taste — which could be a problem if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.
If you're experiencing loss of taste and smell, consult your doctor. Although you can't reverse age-related loss of taste and smell, some causes of impaired taste and smell are treatable. For example, your doctor might adjust your medications if they're contributing to the problem. Many nasal and sinus conditions and dental problems can be treated as well. If you smoke, quitting can help restore your sense of smell.
If necessary, your doctor might recommend consulting an allergist, an ear, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist), a neurologist, or other specialist.
Aug. 07, 2019
See more Expert Answers
- Mann NM, et al. Anatomy and etiology of taste and smell disorders. https://www.uptodate.com/content/search. Accessed Oct. 21, 2017.
- Mann NM, et al. Evaluation and treatment of taste and smell disorders. https://www.uptodate.com/content/search. Accessed Oct. 22, 2017.
- Alt JA, et al. Disorders of smell and taste. American Rhinologic Society. http://care.american-rhinologic.org/disorders_of_smell_taste. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/smellTaste.cfm. Accessed Oct. 23, 2017.
- Flint PW, et al. Physiology of olfaction. In: Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 23, 2017.
- Takahashi PY (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Rochester, Minn. Oct. 25, 2017.