Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Alcohol's effect on my sense of smell

For a few years prior to losing my olfaction, I noticed that anytime I drank alcohol there would be an immediate effect on my sense of smell (and therefore, my sense of taste). Sometimes it was dramatic, other times not so much. But it always annoyed me that if I wanted a cocktail before dinner or a glass of wine with dinner, there would be the subsequent reaction and it became impossible to do both at once.

I've never been a big wine drinker but as my palate matured over the years I did enjoy good wine with food. Frustratingly, it got to the point where I'd enjoy one or the other. And even if I did opt for wine or a pre-dinner cocktail, it wasn't long before I couldn't taste that either! Imagine enjoying a great cabernet and by the second glass you can barely taste it.

As I've just passed my one year anniversary of being anosmic (woo-hoo!), something got me thinking about all of this: Could the fact that have at least one and usually more drinks almost every night be contributing to at least some of my anosmia?

I recently did some searching online and found that one of the effects of alcohol can be inflammation of nasal/sinus passages. As I always noticed an effect and since I've become quite the martini drinker, I thought I'd stop drinking and see if it has even the slightest effect on my sense of smell.

So, as of Monday November 27 I'm laying off alcohol. I would hope that any benefit would happen almost immediately, i.e. within days. As of the 28'th I've noticed no benefit but we shall see.


Anonymous said...

i'm suffering anosmia about 12 years because a surgery issue. I remember some smells of my childhood. I dont believe there isnt a way to return smell! I'm searching a clinic in Europe (i'm italian) to return smell. write me if you wish

cheers, tijuana

Bama said...

I have the same issue with having a drink making me lose my sense of smell and therefore taste. Sometimes I'll have a beer and really enjoy the taste of that first swig. I immediately have a loss of smell, I can actually feel the upper sinus become congested.
Before the bottle is gone I can no longer taste it at all. Breads have a similar affect as does wine or any other alcohol. I attribute it to yeast or anything fermented.
I haven't found anything that helps other than avoiding the culprit foods and drinks.
I've been to ENT's and been tested for allergies, nothing stands out. The only thing that really works is a steroidal anti-inflammatory shot in the rear that I get from my ENT doc. A day after receiving this I can eat and drink anything I like without losing my smell and taste. Unfortunately the side effects of too many of these shots are worse than the inconvenience of avoiding the foods I enjoy. So I limit myself to one a year, right before Thanksgiving. It lasts about a month at most.
Have you found anything that works?

Anonymous said...

I have developed the same affliction related to alcohol's effect on my sense of smell/taste as described by the two previous bloggers. I am a 44 year old male. I see that the initial blog comment was posted in 2006. Has anyone discovered any additional information that can help?

If so, please contact me at rwarren@hq1.com or 904/673.0326

Anonymous said...

same for me. Good to know i'm not alone. Being French I love food too much not to taste it or smell it when I cook so I've turned to non alcoholic beer. the hardest thing is the look of people when you say no to alcohol. they think I'm a recovering alcoholic. But hey they'll get use to it. I did. The biggest downside really is that I've become the designated driver.

alex said...

when I drink alcohol my sense of smell increases drastically. Everything smell 100% more and enhanced. Its really strange..

Unknown said...

I am having the same issue - EXCEPT I can still smell but cannot taste after having a cocktail before dinner!! I just cannot understand it. I am also noticing my face gets red - so it seems like an allergic reaction. The red face and nasal congestion would happen to me in the past if I drank wine - but now it's anything I drink that has alcohol in it. Wish I could figure this out!!

Fat Skeptic said...

I am so very glad I found your post. This connection between alcohol and anosmia is one that seems to be very real for many of us but not well known. Anosmia is sheer hell for a food lover like me. I had it for about a year then got treated with a laser surgery. Now I take use nasal sprays desloratadine/Aerius/Clarinex as needed (not every day as the doctors say) and can smell and taste many things on a good day. But if I have a glass of wine, or even a sip of beer, my smell begins to go right away. I am now mainly a vodka drinker because I find the effects with this are less dramatic. However, more than three drinks and my smell and taste fail, especially at night. We must let the world know about the anosmia/alcohol connection for surely there are many more like us around.