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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Senses
These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as
recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is
always advised to consult their own physician.
Perverted Taste and Smell [posted
Question: I got a bad cold in July 1997. Initially I lost all taste and smell.
Then, I got it back, but everything tasted and smelt the same and very bad. I had
post-nasal drip, but no runny nose, itchy eyes, sneeze, etc. I had nothing to blow if I
tried to blowing my nose, it felt deeper. I started Claritin D and Nasonex in Nov. 1997.
Now, after taking numerous antibiotic courses of Amoxicillin, Cefzil, Zithromax, Biaxin (5
months), and Ciprofloxacin, with no culture ever being done, my taste and smell are
different for each sensation, but are still 'off' from what I knew them to be. I've had
normal CAT scans and MRI's (brain and sinus) and allergy testing (except slight allergy to
large quantities of dust). I periodically get sinus headaches, but they are straight
behind my nostrils (not above the eyes, etc). I also feel congestion localized there in
the morning before I get up. I drain better if I lay on my back, which was how the MRI was
done. I was off Nasonex (but still Claritin D) for about a week recently because it seemed
tied to the onset of my headaches and my taste and smell seemed to get somewhat better
very slowly. My dripping stopped too. Exactly one week later, while I was still on an
upswing taste recovery-wise, I got one of the sinus headaches. Since then, my taste/smell
distortion problems got worse again and I wasn't able to smell/taste as much in general.
I'm thinking that the vehicle in Nasonex may have caused the off smell and taste and the
active ingredient wore off later, so my headaches returned. Is this possible? Previously
to the short-term recovery without Nasonex, I'd seen three ENT's (and a nerve doctor) and
they refused to prescribe an endoscopic exam. They always revert to the virus damaged
nerve theory. But since the episode with no Nasonex, I know there is better taste/smell
possible, if not a full cure. Could it be that Claritin D and now Atrovent are the root
cause of the problem and I should just stop taking everything for a while? What do you
think my next step should be? Should I try to get a referral to some place like the Mayo
Answer: One sensory organ that doesn't get much press for its dysfunction is
taste/smell. These two are intertwined and almost always go together. The frequency of
loss of smell/taste is about the same as loss of hearing (an organ that is more obvious
and for which there is some treatment). However, in general, there are limited treatment
options for loss of this sensory organ. There are specialty clinics that specialize in
loss of smell. However, of the 5-8 patients whom I have sent to these clinics, I have
never had much luck in treatment success (diagnosis yes, treatment no). I suspect that
would be the end result at Mayo or any other clinic. On the other hand, there are few
other options and if it were me, I would get a specialist in this area to evaluate my
problem. Stopping everything would certainly make sense.
5 Senses [posted 8/13/98]
Question: My son is doing a science project in which he is trying to prove which of
the 5 senses is the most dominant. He thinks it's the vision. What can he do in his
experience to prove/dem