question-icon

What causes altered and distorted sense of smell and taste?

default
Posted on Mon, 23 May 2016
Question: My Taste and Smell are not working properly. Certain Foods and Smells all have the same unpleasant smell and taste. This ranges from Cigarette Smoke, Biscuits, Most Cereals, Washing Machine Smells, Toilet Smells. I find it difficult to describe the smell/taste. It's like a 'Dry Musty' taste/smell but I can't be more specific.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka (18 hours later)
Brief Answer:
If no sinus/nasal issues MRI necessary.

Detailed Answer:
I read your question carefully and I understand your concern.

It seems to me that the smell sensation is the one most affected while taste is affected secondarily as it is closely related to smell.

There are several causes to altered and distorted sense of smell (dysosmia). The most common causes are infections of the upper respiratory tract, the nasal cavity and sinuses, so the sinus rinses are a good measure. However the possibility of an infection which may need more treatment including antibiotics must be considered by your primary physician or an ENT physician.

If that is not your case though then neurological issues must be considered as there are tumors of the olfactory tract and frontal lobe of the brain which manifest that way. So a MRI is necessary even if you have no other symptom apparently, as it may be the only presenting manifestation.

I remain at your disposal for other questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
default
Follow up: Dr. Olsi Taka (11 hours later)
Thank You.

The earliest appointment I can get with consultant is April 19. Would this cause you concern? What would you recommend in the interim?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka (3 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Read below.

Detailed Answer:
That is a little late. I am saying that thinking not only about the appointment date, but also that if the consultant confirms a MRI is needed I suppose it will be scheduled after some more waiting time, not on that same day.

If the cause is an airway infection it can wait, also perhaps your GP can evaluate that, in case there are clear indications he might prescribe treatment as well.

If no nasal or sinus symptoms, regarding the possibility of a brain issue....it is not the case of an emergency like say stroke. May wait a few weeks. However in the meantime you should have a low suspicion threshold for neurological symptoms, if you develop potentially neurological symptoms such as headache, nausea/vomiting, behavior changes, weakness or numbness of the limbs on one side, visual issues, coordination and balance issues, things should be sped up, even presenting yourself to the ER. I am not sure how easy it is to get MRI in ER where you live (practices and regulations change between countries), but even a CT (which is certainly available in ER) can give information and detect sizeable lesions.

I hope things will work out for the best.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Olsi Taka

Neurologist

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 3669 Questions

premium_optimized

The User accepted the expert's answer

Share on
What causes altered and distorted sense of smell and taste?

Brief Answer: If no sinus/nasal issues MRI necessary. Detailed Answer: I read your question carefully and I understand your concern. It seems to me that the smell sensation is the one most affected while taste is affected secondarily as it is closely related to smell. There are several causes to altered and distorted sense of smell (dysosmia). The most common causes are infections of the upper respiratory tract, the nasal cavity and sinuses, so the sinus rinses are a good measure. However the possibility of an infection which may need more treatment including antibiotics must be considered by your primary physician or an ENT physician. If that is not your case though then neurological issues must be considered as there are tumors of the olfactory tract and frontal lobe of the brain which manifest that way. So a MRI is necessary even if you have no other symptom apparently, as it may be the only presenting manifestation. I remain at your disposal for other questions.