ENT Kirkland, Bellevue & Seattle | NW Face Medical

Ear, Nose, Throat and Dermatological Care

Home Ear, Nose & Throat Decrease In Taste And Smell


If you have ever had a bad cold, you know that your senses of smell and taste can decrease when sick. Most of the time, this resolves when your cold or sickness is over. For some patients, they experience a more permanent dulling of taste and smell. At Northwest Face Medical, our Kirkland ENT doctors can help determine the cause of your decrease in taste and smell and create an individualized approach to your taste and smell issues.


A decrease in taste and smell may sound straightforward, but the disorder can come in many different forms. Some patients experience a full loss of smell, taste, or both. Others will see a change in their senses that has no known or understood cause. A decrease in smell and taste can exhibit itself through:

  • Head trauma
  • Nasal polyps
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Radiation treatments of the head or neck
  • Drug use- legal and illegal
  • Environmental exposures
  • Age (particularly over the age of 60)
  • Hormone issues
  • Lack of proper nutrition
  • Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis
  • Nerve damage
  • Smoking

How Are They Related?

As functional senses, taste and smell are inextricably linked. Smell and taste can help you identify rancid or dangerous food. In addition, a food with a recognizable odor can enhance or worsen the taste.

When it comes to our anatomy and biology, receptors register smell and taste sensations in the mouth or nose and send them to the brain. Known as olfactory cells, they are found in the upper part of the nasal cavity and on our tongue. On the way to the brain, these transmissions from the separate set of receptors meet. These olfactory cells in the nose and mouth work together to recognize smells and tastes you find pleasant, or conversely, unpleasant. This is why when you are congested, you may notice a dulling in your sense of taste. Or, if you smell a particular pungent odor, you can sometimes taste it in your mouth.


A decrease in taste and smell can have a variety of causes and can be a symptom of more serious conditions. Because of this, determining the specific cause of your decrease in smell and taste is imperative to helping you restore some or all of these vital senses if possible. The cause of your decrease in taste and smell often depends on your age, other medical conditions, medications, and environmental factors.

The specific cause of your loss of smell and taste will determine if it is possible to restore some or all of their function. Your Kirkland ENT specialist can help diagnose the cause of your dulled senses and will create a personalized plan that will treat the cause and possibly help you find some satisfaction from smell and taste again.

Disorders, Conditions And Drugs Associated With A Decrease In Taste And Smell

As mentioned above, there are many medical and environmental causes of a decrease in taste in smell. Among some of the causes include:

With so many causes, finding the direct source of your decrease in taste and smell can be a frustrating process. At Northwest Face Medical in Kirkland, our doctors will use a variety of tests to determine the specific cause of your sensory disturbance. Some tests can include traditional imaging technologies like a CT scan or MRI. We also utilize tests specifically for smell and taste such as The University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test.


It is well known that as we age, vision and hearing can break down over time. However, taste and smell can also dull with age. Particularly after the age of 60, our senses of taste and smell can change and decrease. Sometimes this can manifest as not being able to distinguish between different tastes like salty and bitter, or olfactory function can generally decline.

For those over the age of 60, aging can be the sole factor in their decrease of smell and taste. In these cases, treatment may not help restore the senses because there is no underlying cause that can be treated. However, experimenting with new textures, colors, and spices can help make up for these decreases.


Choosing to see a Kirkland ENT specialist for sensory changes is not an easy decision and often serves as the final stop for smell and taste disorders. Firstly, you and your primary care provider should rule out major medical causes, medications, and age related causes of smell and taste dysfunction. At this point, you doctor may refer you to Northwest Face Medical, or you can seek out more specialized help.

If you have other chronic sinus or nasal problems that you know may contribute to your decrease in smell and taste, our ENT specialists can help. Even if other causes have not yet been ruled out, our ENT doctors can determine if chronic sinusitis, allergies, or other related issues are causing your issues.

How Will They Treat A Decrease In Taste And Smell

The treatment plan for your decline in taste and smell will depend on many factors such as the cause of your problems, other medical conditions you have, your anatomy, age, and overall health. Our ENT specialists in Kirkland will use a variety of methods to treat your decrease in smell and taste to find the best treatment for you.

If the cause of your issues is chronic sinusitis, treating your sinusitis can help improve your symptoms. Some of the common treatments for chronic sinusitis include: allergy medications, home remedies, surgery, and steroidal treatments. Your ENT will most likely first focus on more conservative treatments to ensure that you find relief with the least invasive option possible.

Surgical Options

If an endoscopic evaluation determines that a sinus surgery can provide you relief from your decline in smell and taste and other sinusitis symptoms, your ENT doctor may recommend a sinus surgery.

There are three main types of sinus surgery used to treat chronic sinusitis and sinus problems:

  • Balloon sinus surgery
  • Endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Stealth sinus surgery

The best sinus surgery for you can be determined during an evaluation with your Kirkland ENT doctor. In general, you can expect an expertly performed surgery that can provide relief from your sinus symptoms.

Balloon Sinus Surgery

Balloon sinus surgery is a procedure that uses a medical balloon catheter to expand and widen the sinus cavity. This can improve drainage of the sinuses and relieve uncomfortable sinus pressure and headaches.

Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

Endoscopic sinus surgery that uses an endoscope to aid the surgeon in removing sinus blockages. Utilizing an endoscope allows for no external incisions and can lead to a shorter and easier recovery.

Stealth Sinus Surgery

Much like endoscopic sinus surgery, this type of sinus surgery uses state-of-the-art imaging technology and allows the ENT surgeon to operate without making invasive incisions. Since sinus surgery is a delicate procedure, this can help reduce the risk of surgery.

If you require a sinus surgery, you and your ENT specialist can discuss which type of sinus surgery will benefit you best. Before resorting to more invasive options like surgery, your ENT doctor will use other methods to see what can bring you an optimal amount of relief. Because smell and taste disorders can have a variety of causes, your ENT specialist will use the utmost care to rule out all other causes and treatments before recommending surgery.


The ear, nose, and throat doctors at Northwest Face Medical are board-certified with years of experience diagnosing ENT problems and performing corrective operations. They are dedicated to helping you find a cause for your decrease in smell and taste and creating a custom treatment plan that will address your needs. Using the newest and most effective technology they will get to the bottom of your taste and smell dysfunction.

Northwest Face Medical has served the Greater Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland areas since 1983. Sinus surgery and issues are a specialized and precise art that requires an experienced doctor and surgeon to perform. Dr. Sunil Ummat and Dr. Ludwig Allegra are our ENT specialists. Both are board-certified and have performed thousands of sinus related surgeries over the course of their careers.

To schedule a consultation with one of our ENT specialists at Northwest Face Medical, call us at (425) 522-0555 or contact us using the form to the side of this page.

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