Sinus Infections

Can a Sinus Infection Cause Loss of Taste?

October 12, 2021

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Sinus infections can make you miserable: they are painful, inconvenient, and can be tricky to treat, but can a sinus infection cause loss of taste? It can start to seem a bit cruel when, after long days of fighting off cold and flu-like symptoms, you are still unable to taste the chicken noodle soup that was meant to be the highlight of a miserable day on the couch — leaving you to wonder whether your loss of sense and smell is just another pesky symptom.

The inability to enjoy the things we love can make a difficult time nearly intolerable. Want to know when and how you can get back to tasting your favorite foods? You are in the right place.

How can sinus problems affect your taste buds?

If you are having problems with your ability to taste or smell, you are certainly not alone. 200,000 people visit the doctor every year to address a problem with their ability to taste or smell, and sinus infections are one of the leading causes of reported loss. There are a few factors to consider when determining the nature of your acute sinusitis that require individualized treatment, but what they all have in common is that they can affect your ability to taste and smell.

A lack of ability to taste is most commonly linked to an inability to smell. Your sense of smell is activated when you chew through a channel connecting the roof of your mouth and throat to your nose. If this channel is blocked by sinus pressure, inflammation, or excess mucus, your odor receptors will not activate, and you will lose most of your ability to taste.

Sinus infection symptoms

It is important to address symptoms of a sinus infection as early as possible to keep it from harming you, your friends or your family. Sinusitis can be caused by contagious viral infections that if left untreated can turn into an upper respiratory infection. 

Sinus infection symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient but often include:

  • Nasal inflammation
  • Excess mucus
  • Sinus headaches and facial pressure
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat and cough
  • Fever and chills
  • Dental pain, ear infections, and more

Continue reading: Are sinus infections contagious?

How long does loss of taste and smell last with a sinus infection?

As we mentioned, your sense of taste is heavily linked to your sense of smell. Usually, a loss of taste is actually a loss of smell presenting itself elsewhere. Luckily, loss of taste from a sinus infection usually subsides when the infection itself clears up.

The tricky thing is that sinus infections can be chronic. A chronic sinus infection requires treatment that is more involved than using a nasal rinse or antibiotics. Chronic sinusitis complications can require much more immediate medical attention and cause permanent damage to your sense of taste and smell if left untreated.

The chronic inflammation experienced with a sinus infection can also cause swollen nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are non-cancerous growths that appear in the nose, increasing your risk of rhinitis, sinus infections, bad allergies, and of course, a loss of taste and smell.  If you have been experiencing chronic sinusitis symptoms seek medical attention and schedule an appointment to see an ENT as soon as possible.

How can I get my taste back after a sinus infection?

So how do you get your taste back? Generally, because a loss of taste and smell is tied to the infection itself, you start by getting rid of the sinus infection. 

There are many ways to relieve sinus congestion, but keep in mind that not everything works for everyone, and there is no substitute for a medical professional’s guidance. Here are some tips on how to get rid of a sinus infection:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Use a humidifier and take frequent hot showers
  • Use a Neti pot or saline spray
  • Eat foods with antibacterial properties (such as garlic and ginger)
  • Warm facial compresses can help clear nasal passages
  • Ask your pharmacist to recommend OTC medicines

While your sense of taste and smell usually returns to normal after healing, it can be complicated by chronic congestion and there is no way to guarantee its recovery after an infection. The best way to ensure that the integrity of your senses remains intact is to treat the root of the problem: the infections themselves.

Balloon Sinuplasty is a minimally invasive, in-office procedure that can help keep your sense of taste intact. In about 20 minutes, the procedure can restore proper drainage and airflow, significantly lowering your risk for chronic sinus pressure, and therefore infections. Traditional sinus surgery is often invasive and expensive, employing general anesthetics and requiring 3-5 days for recovery. Balloon sinuplasty can keep you out of the operating room at a fraction of the cost.

So, can a sinus infection cause a loss of taste? Yes, it absolutely can. Can you do something about it? Yes! Breathe easy and ensure that your sense of taste sticks around with Balloon Sinuplasty. Kaplan Sinus Relief offers Balloon Sinuplasty performed by Dr. Michael Kaplan, M.D., a Board Certified ear, nose, and throat specialist and one of the pioneers of the Balloon Sinuplasty procedure.

Call 713-766-1818 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kaplan today!

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