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Head & Traumatic Brain Injury Community
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604197 tn?1292308636

Head trauma causes loss of smell/taste

Hello,
I'm 17 years of age and recently (2 months ago) had an accident that has resulted in the loss of my sense of smell and taste. I was at a lake, swinging on a rope into the water but lost my grip and wnet head first down a cliff of rocks and roots. I landed in the water but had hit the back of my head (near the crown, at the top) splitting my head open and fracturing my skull (3-4 inches). The neurologists told me I had a severe concussion as well as contusions (bruising) near the front of my brain where I damaged the nerve endings. I also have a herniated disc located in my lower back which has pinched my sciatic nerve running to my left leg.

Since the fall I have experienced several changes. The main concern I have months later is my senses. I understand the brain is complex but I feel as though I haven't recieved satisfying answers from my doctors. My doctor gave me a 3-4 month time frame to see improvements with my senses. He said I could get my taste back slightly, fully or not at all, same goes for my smell. I could get both back, one or none. To date, I have not experienced improvement with taste but recently I have been noticing (for about 2 days now) my nose is sensitive and feels as though it's tingling and I constantly smell mild "burning" so to speak. I was just wondering if this is a positive notion toward recovery or common in all patients who suffer from losing their sense of smell. Is it likely I will return to normal within my lifetime?

Also, if anyone has ever heard of anyone losing their senses after head trauma and regaining/not regaining them. Please comment, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks greatly!
215 Responses
Avatar universal
I just wanted to comment and I am not a doctor just a Mom. My son suffered a TBI and one of first questions when he woke up was did he feel like he could smell foods etc. These senses (smell and taste) in his case seemed to be heighten - he said he could smell things that we couldn't or when he tasted something it was very salty to him. One year out these seem to have settled down - he doesn't complain that things taste salty anymore and when asked by the doctors he says that his sense of smell is normal again. From what I read or have been told I do think this is common. I would also throw out any time frame that they give you.

Good Luck in your recovery - I know it is a long and difficult road you are on - we are walking it with our 15 year old son.
563773 tn?1374250139
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hello,

After a brain injury, people may experience a loss of taste and smell which is called anosmia. This usually occurs without actually damaging the nose or tongue themselves.
When a person sustains a brain injury its impossible to predict how much they will recover and how long it will take. There is no formula to tell you which results are permanent and which are temporary.

If the sensory cortex in the brain has been bruised because of your injury, a gradual recovery of sensation may be possible. If the area has been torn, it is unlikely to return to normal functioning.

Eat a hot meal with a cold salad for different temperature experiences. Try spicy food from Eastern cuisines that cause sensations on the tongue. The object is to take some time to make meals interesting and fun, so it is still appealing to eat and feel satisfied afterwards.http://braininjury.org.au/portal/fact-sheets/anosmia---losing-your-sense-of-smell---fact-sheet.html

You may also need to take some extra steps to become safety conscious. Install plenty of smoke detectors if you can’t smell smoke in the house. Switch to electricity instead of gas. Read labels carefully in case you are using strong chemicals that need ventilation.

Hope it helps.Take care and God bless.
Avatar universal
Hi Brittany - I was very interested to read your posting as I am suffering in a similar way.  I had my head injury 9 weeks ago and over the last week have just started to 'smell' a constant sweet burning smell.  This odour is obviosly not there and dissappears when I inhale deeply for a few moments.  I was wondering if your smell had returned or improved?  No one will tell me anything definate and it's beginning to depress me.  
Avatar universal
I had a brain injury on Sept 13th and at first I lost my sense of taste and smell and then after about 2 weeks it mostly came back though things tasted odd at time. Like when I ate orange chicken it tasted like vinegar.  Now almost 2 months later I can't get theis sweet smokey taste out of my mouth and the smell is everywhere and it seems worse when I eat meat or cooked veggies.  It is driving me crazy. It seems to be getting worse but I don't have another Dr appt until Dec 18th.  If you find out anything let me know.  
Avatar universal
I experienced a head injury in January of this year and still do not have any sense of smell or taste.  I can taste sweet and salt by not flavors.  I do get the occassional sense of smell (burning and other odd odors) but there is nothing there to smell and it goes away.  I went back to dr. and he told me that probably the way things are right now is the way they probably will be for me.  He said there is the possibility that the fall I had caused a tear in nerves for my sense of smell.  It is very difficult at times.  The not knowing and continuing to have no sense of smell or taste is very depressing at times.  But, when I find myself getting down I try to remember that things could have been much worse or even fatal.  Keep you chin up.
Avatar universal
Hi, Brittany. I read though the posts and it seems a lot of folks are experiencing similar effects from TBI. I took a tumble from a horse in July and suffered a concussion and a brain bleed. Now -- you guessed it -- no sense of smell or taste. My neurologist tells me what others are being told: these senses may improve or they may not. And I, too, get discouraged. It's true things could be worse. There's a positive thought to grasp. My comment and question for everyone is exactly what other smell or taste sensations are some of us going through? I have had extended bouts of an odd metallic/citrusy flavor which is now evolving into a constant taste of soap! Like I'm chewing on a bar of Safeguard or something. It is unremitting and, frankly, nauseating. It would be nice to find some medical research that suggests some way to mask this -- or something!
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