How To Get Your Taste Back After a Sinus Infection
You’ve been dealing with a nasty sinus infection for a few days. It’s a little annoying, but you’re pushing through.
Then it happens. You’ve been looking forward to your favorite lasagna all week. You sit down to the special meal ready to relish it. But that first bite… Oh no! It’s flavorless mush! You’ve completely lost your taste!
What’s happening? Can a sinus infection cause that? Do you have COVID-19?
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to get your taste back after a sinus infection, look no further.
What Happens During a Sinus Infection?
The sinuses are just air-filled spaces in your skull. Scientists aren’t completely sure why they exist, but they do lighten the skull, allow the voice to reverberate, and produce mucus that lubricates the inside of the nose.
Your sinuses connect to your nose by small drainage openings called ostia. Ostia are how air flows through the nose into the sinuses.
Though your sinuses are usually filled with air, they can become blocked and fill with fluid and mucus. When the fluid and mucus stick around long enough, bacteria can begin to flourish.
Now, this normally air-filled cavity becomes a fluid-filled pocket of infection.
If you experience persistent nasal allergies, for example, the frequent inflammation may lead to blocked passages and stopped up sinuses — the perfect environment for a sinus infection.
Why Do I Lose My Taste During a Sinus Infection?
Unlike a novel coronavirus infection, a sinus infection doesn’t usually cause a direct loss of taste. Instead, the sense of smell is the first to go.
Sinus infections cause inflammation within the nasal cavities and passageways. This swelling blocks the flow of air through your nose and prevents it from reaching the olfactory nerve that’s responsible for your sense of smell.
Since air carries odor particles, when it can’t reach your olfactory nerve, you’re not going to be able to smell anything.
Because your sense of taste relies so heavily upon your ability to smell, the inflammation caused by a sinus infection can lead to a dulled sense of taste.
How Can I Get My Sense of Taste Back After a Sinus Infection?
The best place to start is focusing on reducing the inflammation in your nasal passages. If you can open up your sinuses and facilitate drainage, your smell (and therefore your taste) will return faster.
Saline irrigations are helpful to wash out signs of infection and clear inflammation. You can purchase over-the-counter options like NeilMed Sinus Rinse at any pharmacy.
Topical steroid sprays like Flonase can also help to reduce inflammation.
If necessary, an ENT doctor can prescribe a compounded irrigation treatment. This is much like a saline rinse, but the solution also contains antibiotics or steroids to treat the sinus infection more aggressively.
How Long Will It Take To Regain My Sense of Taste?
Because everyone heals at different rates, there’s unfortunately no set amount of time in which you can expect to regain your senses of taste and smell. But we do know that the faster you open your sinuses and clear the infection, the faster your healing will occur. With the proper treatment, you could be enjoying that lasagna again within a few days, or it may take up to a few weeks.
Rarely, it can take several months to regain your sense of taste, but this usually results from chronic sinus infections that are harder to treat.
How Can I Prevent Loss of Taste in the Future?
Preventing sinus infections from developing in the first place is the best way to ensure you keep enjoying your meals.
If you’re prone to seasonal allergies, make regular sinus irrigation a habit during the seasons that affect you the most.
You may also want to talk to an ENT doctor about treating your allergies more aggressively with prescription allergy medications to prevent the swelling that blocks the sinuses.
Have You Lost Your Sense of Taste?
Today, if you’ve lost your sense of taste, it’s likely that your first thought is that you might have COVID-19. While COVID-19 certainly can cause a loss of taste and smell, a sinus infection could also be the culprit. The quickest way to tell the difference and make sure you’re not spreading the coronavirus to those around you is to get tested.
If a cold or allergy has caused a nasal blockage and loss of taste, then reducing inflammation is key in the fight against a sinus infection. If you’ve tried all the home remedies and you’re still not finding relief, it’s time to get help.
Our team will work with you to find a treatment plan that’s right for your circumstances. Don’t let a sinus infection keep you from enjoying your favorite foods. Give ENT Associates of Lubbock a call today.
Dr. Cuthbertson is a physician at Ear Nose & Throat Associates of Lubbock. He joined the team at ENT Lubbock from Houston, where he was chief resident of the prestigious Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology at Baylor College of Medicine. He is board certified in Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery and has quickly built a reputation, not only as an extremely skilled surgeon, but as an approachable and compassionate clinician adept in the newest standards and technologies. Learn more about Dr. Cuthbertson.