Sensory Dysfunction | Causes & Risk Factors


What can cause problems with my ability to smell or taste?

Nose or sinus problems might affect your sense of smell. Your sinuses might be swollen or polyps (tiny growths) might block your nose passages.

Infections (such as colds or the flu) or a head injury might affect your ability to smell. Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease can also make people lose their sense of smell.

Infection or inflammation (redness and swelling) in your mouth can cause loss of taste. Head injury and Bell’s palsy (an inflammation of the nerves in the face) can sometimes also affect the ability to taste.

Some medicines (such as antibiotics and medicines for blood pressure) can affect your ability to smell and taste. Cigarette smoking, certain chemicals and a lack of vitamins or minerals (such as vitamin B12 and zinc) can also cause problems with taste and smell.


Smell and Taste Disorders: A Primary Care Approach by SM Bromley, M.D. (American Family Physician January 15, 2000,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/00