What Medications Can Cause the Loss of Smell and Taste?

Every single day, you encounter hundreds of smells that come from every direction. You can smell the sweet floral fragrance of a coworker’s perfume, the smell of the grill at a local fast-food restaurant, and the sharp pungent odor of a freshly chopped onion. For worse or for better, your nose helps you to perceive the world around you. However, many people never stop to truly consider what smell is.

Smelling is actually a very complex process that happens rather quickly within the body. Odor molecules are drawn into the nose and dissolved into the mucus membrane. They attach themselves to tiny hair-like structures known as the cilia. These important structures pass the molecules to the receptor cells that generate a signal to the axons that comprise the olfactory nerve.

The brain has a special spot, known as the olfactory bulb, that binds several of these olfactory nerves together. This bulb passes along information it gathers about the smell to your thalamus, limbic system, and other important areas of the brain.

There is an important reason that we are gifted with the sense of smell. It can act as a warning sign, particularly when it comes to food. We have all experienced the rancid odor that comes from decaying meat. When certain smells are encountered, we know that we need to pause or make a different decision.

In addition to the warning it provides, smell is also very closely linked to mood, memory, and emotion. A certain smell can easily evoke memories of a childhood afternoon spent at your grandmother’s house, an overwhelming feeling of comfort, or the memory of a joyous holiday party with your family. Smells serve an extremely practical purpose in our daily lives, so it’s important that we attempt to keep our senses keen.

What is Anosmia?

The truth is that your sense of smell is typically not at the forefront of your mind. Humans tend to rely far more on visual cues in the environment than on olfactory cues. However, you may not take it for granted if you have ever experienced anosmia.

Anosmia, the complete loss of smell, can drastically impact your life. First and foremost, you lose the ability to determine certain situations that could be dangerous. You can’t determine whether your lunch is still safe for consumption, whether there is a gas leak in your home, or even if there is smoke in the building you work in. A sense of smell can help to keep you safe, and without it, you might really be at risk.

Without a sense of smell, you will also find that tasting your food is much more difficult. Your taste buds can only detect a handful of flavors without the assistance of your olfactory nerves. Many people quite enjoy sitting down to an excellent meal, so this can drastically impact their quality of life as well.

Many people encounter this condition when they have sinus issues or the common cold. Congestion can drastically alter your ability to smell. However, some medications can also worsen anosmia. However, there are also a number of medications that can cause anosmia. Steering clear of some of these leading pharmaceutical products can help you to preserve your sense of smell and taste as much as possible.

Intranasal Zinc Products

Intranasal zinc products are typically marketed as a cure for symptoms that accompany the common cold. Patients who take these products must inhale deeply to apply the gel or spray to their sinuses. Most of them report a burning sensation that eventually leads to anosmia just a day or two later.

Lack of Thiamin

While some medications can cause anosmia, it is also possible that it could be caused by a lack of thiamin in your body. Lack of thiamin could cause long-term problems with your sense of smell. You can bolster this vitamin by taking a supplement or adding certain foods to your diet. Try eating more enriched and whole grain products, beef, pork, eggs, and legumes to see if it improves your anosmia over time.

Atorvastatin

Atorvastatin is a cholesterol-lowering drug that can also induce anosmia. Scientists are not exactly clear on why or how this medication interacts with the olfactory nerves. However, it can definitely impact your sense of taste and your sense of smell.

Prednisone

Steroids are often prescribed for the treatment of polyps that can drastically reduce your ability to taste and smell. While you are taking prednisone, you may find that your sense of smell actually returns for the first time in a long time. Unfortunately, many people become steroid dependent and once again develop anosmia when the prednisone is discontinued.

Bisoprolol

Bisoprolol is another medication that is well-known for its potential to cause anosmia. Many people do not expect to develop this side effect from their blood pressure medication, but it is a definite possibility.

Topamax

Topamax is often prescribed for the treatment of migraine headaches and seizures. Because of the way that this drug interacts with the brain, it can cause issues with the olfactory bulb and your ability to perceive tastes and smells. Anosmia is a common side effect with Topamax that should go away when the medication is discontinued.

Mucinex

Many people turn to the over-the-counter Mucinex products as treatments for the common cold or a stuffy nose. While these products are effective for short-term usage, using them for the long term can actually cause more problems. Extended use can lead to more congested sinuses, a condition that ultimately impacts your ability to smell.

It is best to use this medication only for a few days at a time. If you find that you still need more intervention for your congestion, try natural remedies such as steam, drinking more water, or eating spicy foods.

Natural Ways to Restore Smell

Most people cannot wait until the day that they can finally enjoy that steaming mug of morning coffee and a garlicky piece of grilled steak. Restoring your sense of smell and your sense of taste is an important task that can dramatically improve your current quality of life. While some of the medications on this list (such as prednisone) may help to resolve your anosmia, there are natural options as well.

If you want to try a natural option to restore your taste and smell, take a look at a few of these options.

Zinc Supplements

According to research studies, people with low zinc tend to encounter more impairments in their taste. They may also have more sinus issues which can be directly linked to your anosmia. If your anosmia is caused by inflamed sinuses or a long-lasting cold, zinc can help to cut the duration of your sickness as well.

The easiest solution would be to pop a zinc supplement into your pill box, but you should always consult your doctor first. You can also try to add more zinc into your diet naturally with foods like:

  • Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Dairy and eggs
  • Whole grains

Steam

If the cilia are blocked by excess mucus production in the sinuses, you may be experiencing anosmia. You can get that mucus flowing again so that the cilia can pass messages along to the receptors by using steam. Bring a bowl of water to a boil and place your head over top of the bowl. Cover your head with a towel and breathe as normally as possible until the steam dissipates. This can be a great way to restore smell, relieve sinus pressure, and unwind.

Spicy Foods

Eating spicy foods is another easy way to relieve symptoms of anosmia caused by some of these medications. The problem with many of these medications is that they lead to inflammation in the sinuses, making it difficult for you to perceive smells.

Many of the dishes we associate with spicy foods contain an ingredient known as capsaicin. This ingredient reduces inflammation, eases pain, and produces more mucus to get things flowing again. You can find it in any recipe that requires hot chili peppers. Other foods such as horseradish or wasabi will have a similar effect on your sinuses. Restoring your sense of smell and taste could be as simple as eating a plate of spicy food.

Elderberry Syrup

Many people rely on elderberry syrup to cure all of their common ailments – and for good reason! This simple syrup is extremely rich in antioxidants and vitamins that can boost your immune system. It contains vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, folate, calcium, iron, and more. Taking this daily can act in much the same way as a regular multivitamin, helping to stave off potential illnesses.

If you are suffering from sinus issues that are causing your anosmia, you may find this syrup to be particularly helpful. After all, it has been proven to shorten the duration of the common cold. This allows you to shorten the amount of time that you need to continue taking over-the-counter cold and flu medicines like Mucinex.

Taking elderberry syrup daily could boost your immune system to prevent ailments like the common cold. If you choose not to take it daily, you should start taking elderberry syrup right at the onset of your cold. It may be taken in conjunction with other cold medicines since this is a natural remedy.

Nasal Flush

Rinsing out your sinuses could be another simple and effective way to restore your sense of smell. Perhaps you have too much mucus and debris blocking your sinuses. A simple nasal flush using a squeeze bottle, bulb syringe, or neti pot can do the trick. Mix up some saline with sterile water or purchase a bottle of premade saline from the pharmacy.

All you have to do is lean forward over the sink with your head tilted to one side and facing slightly forward. Flush the nasal passage with saline, making sure to get it as far up into the sinuses as possible. The water should trickle from one side of your sinuses to the other, coming out the opposite side and down into the sink. Flush the other side and gently blow your nose to get rid of any loose debris and mucus.

Finding the Cure for Your Anosmia

Living with anosmia can be frustrating and even downright dangerous. If you have ever experienced this condition, you probably agree that you want a solution that can help as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, many people are prescribed medications that only worsen the inability to smell. Restoring your sense of smell may be a bit tricky, but it can definitely be done.

These natural home remedies can help to relieve congestion and reduce inflammation in the sinuses. With these two symptoms under control, you can begin to activate the receptors that translate odor molecules into smells once more. If you continue to suffer from anosmia for an extended period of time, consider consulting your doctor to talk about the potential next steps for curing your condition.

This is a problem that is not fully understood nor often addressed. Some suspected causes are mineral deficiencies and the results of the aging process.  Decreased salivation and a decrease in-  taste bud activity is also contributory.

 Below is a listing of some suspected causes and some natural remedies that you can try:

 

Etiology(causation):

  • Nasal polyps on the mucosa
  • Nasal sinusitis and yeast
  • Nasal or septal blockage
  • Sinus and or dental infections
  • Loss of macro- minerals, especially zinc!
  • Yeast infections, Candidiasis
  • Aging and hormonal decline
  • Taste bud atrophy
  • Improper metal ratios and or heavy metal toxicity build-up
  • Loss of B-6 and Molybdenum, from Biotics lecture
  • Loss of nerve function, especially the glossopharyngeal nerve.

Natural Remedies:

If you suffer from Nasal Sinusitis or Nasal Polyps, you may want to give this a try:

  • Rinse intra-nasally with sea salt and baking soda (use a Neti -Pot)
  • Put sea salt in a large bowl with water, add baking soda and begin snorting the solution 20 times per day. There is no magic amount as to how much of any of the ingredients to use.
  • Use a bulb, syringe or Neti- Pot to flush through your nose. Use unrefined sea salt.
  • Add the Argentyn-23 regimen alongside this therapy, 4 times a day. (do not dilute the Argentyn)(This is a very effective and safe antibiotic).
  • Stay away from the surgical option of removing nasal polyps because it is usually very- painful and ineffective. Polyps can line the nasal mucosa and depending how many there are, they will need to be surgically removed, one at a time or all at once, and there is a 50% chance of them returning.
  • The most common cause of Chronic Sinusitis is a yeast or fungal infection, in part, driven by over indulging with continual rounds of antibiotics. This in fact drives up the fungal component and it’s the fungal component that makes it chronic.
  • COLOSTRUM has high levels of Secretory IgA and antibodies. This boosts immunity and is immuno-protective. Can use bovine  colostrum from New Zealand.
  • Increase your UNREFINED SALT INTAKE, as this increases your pH, thereby decreasing inflammation

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