Complete Loss of Smell and Taste After Sinus Surgery-SUPER WORRIED!

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Hi everyone,

Three days ago, I had sinus surgery, specifically, a septoplasty and a sinus cleaning. Pain has been minimal, but I have completely lost my ability to smell and taste. Many medical articles I've read have reassured me that this is common after surgery, but I have no sense of smell and taste, LITERALLY 0%, I probably couldn't even smell gasoline. What's really strange though is that hours after the surgery, I could taste just fine. A nurse brought me a orange popsicle and I could taste it just fine. After getting home, I ate some chocolate ice cream and I couldn't finish eating it becasue of how rich in flavor it was. So I could taste hours after the surgery, but by the evening, as I was eating dinner with my family, I couldn't taste at all. What could this mean?

Three days have passed and I have no sense of smell or taste. It's gotten worse actually becasue yesterday I could still smell my perfume and a few other scents and now I really can't smell anything. I can't taste anything, not even raw sugar or potent spices. I have no desire to eat, the inability to taste freaks me out so much. Another thing I would like to mention is that while I have no sense of taste or smell, I have this constant yucky taste lingering in my mouth. It tastes like disgusting medicine and metal. What does this mean? I think it may be related to the antibiotics, since in the past, antibiotics have given me a metallic taste in my mouth and I've also experienced a temporary 50% decrease in smell from antibiotics about a year ago. Is it really necessary to take antibiotics after surgery? They just give me such bad side effects...

I know I'm probably overreacting, but it's all just really scary. I know the reason why I can't smell is probably related to swelling, inflammation, the antibiotics, and congestion, but is it really normal to have a COMPLETE loss of smell and taste after surgery? I just turned 16 recently and I can't imagine living several decades without being able to taste a single bite of food.....I'd rather not live. Pathetic, I know, but I'm so sad about this, I've been crying nonstop, I want to be able to smell, I want to be able to taste chocolate and smell coffee.  I wouldn't be so worried if I still had a partial ability to smell, but I have no sense of smell at all. I wouldn't be as worried if it improved after being able to breathe through my nose, I was so congested, I thought that was the reason I couldn't smell, but after using decongestant spray, I can breathe through my nose, but I still have zero sense of smell.

What could have gone wrong? Why could I smell and taste right after surgery, but not several hours later? Could there have been any sort of nerve damage?? I remember waking up and having intense burning in my nose, did something happen? I'm doing everything my doctor told me to do, I'm rinsing my nose with saline water 3 times a day and applying an antibiotic ointment. My doctor has been performing this surgery every week for nearly 20 years, so he has lots of experience. I just don't understand what's happening...I didn't know that the last meal I ate the night before the surgery could have been the last meal I'd ever taste...

For anyone who's bothered to read this to this point, thank you so much. If you have had sinus surgery before, did you lose your sense of smell and taste? How long did it take for it to come back? How did you cope in the meantime? According to my research, it can take several weeks for smell and taste to come back, sometimes months, and post-surgical swelling can exist up to a year after surgery....What are the chances that this complete loss of smell and taste is permanent??? Is it really normal to have NO sense of smell after sinus surgery? 

I'm sorry this turned into one long rant, I have given more details that I probably needed to give. I'm just so worried, I don't wanna live my life without the ability to smell the roses or taste.....any information or sharing of personal experiences would be appreciated, thank you so much <3

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  • Posted

    I had sinus surgery about 9 weeks ago and also lost my sense of smell and taste. It did come back though. I had a little bit of taste the day of surgery, but then, like you, absolutely nothing the next day. Zero, zilch, nada. My husband didn't believe me that it was absolutely nothing so while I was "blindfolded" with my ice eye-mask he started feeding me things for fun to see if I could identify them. Nope. Couldn't even tell him if it was supposed to be sweet or salty. I knew it was normal for that to happen right after surgery but it was nonetheless really unnerving. When I had my splints and packing removed 4 days after surgery they told me I should be able to taste again that day. No dice. Still nothing for several more days, which really freaked me out since the nurses told me I should be able to taste again. My main issue was just simply not eating. I didn't have any desire to eat anything that I couldn't taste. So I just stocked up on protein shakes and had those to keep myself nourished. It took about a week for it to start coming back and it was a gradual process. The morning of post-op day 8 I could sort of taste my breakfast smoothie. But by lunch, gone again. Then the next day I could taste my breakfast better and could taste the stronger flavors at lunch, but nothing at dinner. So on and so forth. Each day I could taste a  little more and for a little longer. By 3 weeks post-op my sense of taste was back to normal (at the level it was before surgery). Since then I think it has improved even from what it was before. My sense of smell is still a little off. I have a funny smell in my nose which my doctor says is also normal and from the healing and scabbing inside my sinuses. He says this will clear up in 3-6 months. It's not really an unpleasant smell and I can still smell other things, it's just odd and it seems to throw off my sense of smell a little. While everyone is different, hopefully this helps you to relax a little (easier said than done, I know). It is normal and in 99% of sinus surgery patients it comes back, usually even better than it was before surgery.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for sharing! It's totally unnerving indeed. I'm still eating but only becasue I have to, I can't taste a single thing. Kinda bizarre to me how I could taste that chocolate ice cream when I got home, but within a matter of a few more hours, smell and taste were totally gone. I'm just trying to be patient, but I can't stop stressing sad Thanks for the reassurance and I'm glad your senses came back!

      Best wishes to you!

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    • Posted

      If you are having a hard time with the stress I might suggest asking your doc for Tramadol (it's a pain medication). It has some properties similar to anti-anxiety medications. I'm allergic to anything with acetaminophen so I always get Tramadol for pain after surgery or injury. It helps my post-op anxiety quite a bit. I care a whole lot less, which for me is good. It is an opiate, so it's addictive, and you should be careful with it. But it can be a lifesaver if you are having anxiety along with pain. Obviously everyone is different, but just a thought.  

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    • Posted

      Thank you, I will look into it! I've been taking Tylenol with codeine as needed, but it's not helping my anxiety sad I wish I could smell just a little bit, just for some reassurance, but my senses are at 0%. I hope I start noticing a difference within a few weeks.

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    • Posted

      Hi there, I just had sinus surgery 2 weeks ago and am also stressing as I can't smell anything. Did you eventually get your sense of smell back? How long did it take?

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  • Posted

    I have just had my second sinus surgery 2 weeks back. First one was correcting the deviated septum although the primary concern even then was no sense of smell. That was in 2006. My sense of smell works perfectly when I used to take Prednisone for about 10 days and then goes back to sqaure 😦

    After my first surgery it worked for about a 1-2 month and then never came back.. 2 weeks back I did my second surgery because of excessive nasal polyps. Doc said he cleaned them up and my sense of smell should come back. So far its on and off...everytime I use netipot my sense of smell becomes alive for few hours and then it fades away. Hoping once things dry up even more I might get lucky this time.

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