Loss of Smell and Taste After a Brain Injury 

Nov 21, 2023
Loss of Smell and Taste After a Brain Injury 
Losing your sense of smell or taste after a brain injury is common. Read on to learn why sensory disruptions happen and what you can do to recover your senses. 

Your brain has many responsibilities. Beyond cognition, memory, and comprehension, it is also responsible for interpreting sensory input from your eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and skin. Sometimes, brain injuries can alter your senses or cause a loss of particular sensory abilities. 

Losing your sense of taste or smell may not be as life-altering as losing your eyesight, but it still creates a challenge. In fact, the loss of taste or smell is a life-altering event. 

At Delaware NeuroRehab, located in Dover, Delaware, our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to providing top-notch neurorehabilitative care. We cover the entire spectrum of brain injuries and their effects, helping you recover after your injury. With physiatrists, counselors, and physical therapists to assist you, you may be able to gain back your sense of taste or smell as you rehabilitate your brain and nerves. 

The most common types of brain injury 

There’s no predicting whether you’ll develop anosmia (loss of smell) or ageusia (loss of taste) after a traumatic brain injury. It depends on the part of your brain affected by the injury. Even minor head trauma, like bumping your head on a door frame, can lead to anosmia in some cases. Fortunately, these senses are often recoverable. 

These types of brain injuries can cause sensory disruptions:


A stroke is a life-altering brain event that happens when something (a blood clot, for example) obstructs oxygenated blood flow to your brain. Your brain cells die when they don’t get the oxygen supply they need. 

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)

Traumatic brain injuries can happen in many ways, such as impact during a car accident. Concussions are an example of a type of TBI. 

Anoxic brain injuries

Anoxic brain injuries are similar to strokes in that they deprive your brain cells of necessary oxygen. You might experience an anoxic brain injury from suffocation or poisoning. 

Interpreting sensory disruptions

Sensory disruptions like anosmia or ageusia typically happen when nerves or brain cells associated with these senses are impacted by damage or oxygen deprivation. The loss of taste or smell might originate from:

  • Nasal cavity damage
  • Neurovascular coupling dysfunction (NVC)
  • Autonomic nervous system dysfunction
  • Nerve damage in your nose or mouth

It’s common to lose your sense of taste and smell at the same time because the olfactory nerves in your nose assist your taste buds with interpreting flavors. You can demonstrate this by plugging your nose while eating. In most cases, food won’t taste quite the same. 

Recovering your senses

The milder the injury, the more likely you are to recover your lost senses. In fact, many people regain their sense of smell or taste within a few months of the injury. Still, these sensory disruptions can be more impactful than you might initially expect, causing you to have trouble eating, dry mouth due to a lack of saliva production, nutrient imbalances, and oral health problems. 

Our team at Delaware NeuroRehab provides individualized care to rehabilitate your brain and nerves. Physiatrists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and psychotherapists all collaborate to help you recover specific abilities and cope with the neuropsychological changes that come with having a brain injury. 

If you have a brain injury accompanied by sensory disruptions like loss of taste or smell, call us right away. You can also schedule a treatment consultation online at Delaware NeuroRehab using our online booking tool.