Because almost 80 percent of taste comes from the olfactory system in the nose, regaining the sense of taste during a cold is unlikely. The tongue is only able to sense basic flavors such as sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory, according to the American Academy of Neurology.Continue Reading
The loss of taste and smell during a cold is caused by the inflammation and congestion of nasal passages. These senses return to most people from a few days to a couple of weeks following a cold. For some people it may take longer. In rare cases the senses of smell and taste never return. This has been linked to the use of nasal sprays that contain zinc, according to the American Rhinologic Society.
Damage to the olfactory system occurs in 10 percent of head trauma patients either from the sheer force of the incident or damage to the bone structure surrounding the nerve. Other physiological causes of smell and taste loss include nerve damage from a deviated septum, allergies, nasal polyps, nasal cancer, chronic sinusitis, and physical blockage of the nostrils, according to the American Rhinologic Society.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, certain medications can also alter taste and smell perception. These include antibiotics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antihistamines, heart and blood pressure medications, and many others.Learn more about Cold & Flu