A sick child eats.

No one likes being sick. The stuffiness, sore throat, and fatigue are bad enough, but the fact that your favorite meal tastes bland makes it worse. But why, exactly, does food taste different when you’re sick?

How do we taste food?

The tastes we perceive are a combination of both the sense of taste from our taste buds – clusters of sensory cells connected to nerve fibers that receive taste sensations – as well as the sense of smell. When your smell and taste nerves are stimulated, signals are sent to the brain, which translates those signals and identifies what you are tasting.

What happens to our sense of taste when we’re sick?

When we’re sick, our noses are often blocked with mucus. Also, the tissues inside our nose can become swollen and inflamed. This prevents us from smelling properly. Because your sense of smell is so tied to your sense of taste, if you can’t smell things properly, you won’t be able to taste them properly, either.

Will my sense of taste return?

Jonathan Moss, MD

In most cases, once the sickness goes away your sense of taste will be restored. However, in some cases the inflammation can lead to permanent damage. If it persists beyond two weeks you should be evaluated by an ENT doctor, as it can represent acute sinus infection, CEENTA ENT doctor Jonathan Moss, MD, said. Longer durations of a change in smell or taste can also be symptoms of allergies or nasal polyps.

Great care for you

If your sense of taste isn’t returning, or you have any concerns about your nose or throat, make an appointment with a CEENTA ENT doctor. They will diagnose you and come up with a treatment plan that helps you get you back to tasting all your favorite foods.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Dr. Moss sees patients in our Matthews office. Do you need an appointment with an ENT doctor near you? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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