ZocdocAnswersWhat could be causing chemical taste and smell?

Question

What could be causing chemical taste and smell?

Hi, I wonder if anyone can help. I have had a cold for about a week but about 2 weeks ago things started smelling and tasting like chemicals. now its really strong and Im having trouble eating. the more something tastes or smells the stronger I have this chemical flavour. I haven't smelled or tasted anything else now for about a week and a half. does anyone have an idea what may be causing this and how to sort it out?

Answer

You may have a taste and smell dysfunction or disorder, so it is important to discuss this with your family doctor. How long has this been going on? One of the major types of problems related to taste and smell is distortion of function. It seems that you have distortion of function called parosmia which means that foods or odors that normally are pleasant may taste or smell odd or distorted. In your case, you experience an unpleasant chemical taste and smell. This faulty sense of smell and taste can relate to several causes. It may be due to viral infections that most frequently they follow an influenza-like illness or upper respiratory infection. Other additional causes such as diseases of the nasal cavity, including polyps, sinusitis and allergies. Medications, smoking, vitamin deficiency, head trauma, brain tumors, and neurological diseases may impair both smell and taste. It is most likely that your taste and smell problem is a result of the lingering effects of a viral infection. However, it is still important to rule out other conditions to help reduce anxiety and worry. Please get in to see a family doctor for a more accurate assessment of your disorder. This assessment will include, among other things, a physical examination of your ear, nose and throat and a review of your health history. Your doctor may administer a simple scratch and sniff test to detect smell disorders. The taste evaluation (sip, spit, and rinse) relies on whole mouth testing where chemicals are directly placed on specific areas of your tongue. Depending on the outcome, you may be referred to a neurologist or an ear, nose and throat specialist for further evaluation that includes an MRI or CT scan of the head and sinuses, or possibly blood tests. Many types of smell and taste disorders are curable.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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