Before Flonase was on the over-the-counter market, I was prescribed it for my severe allergies. I was warned that there were many side-effects, including stunted growth and a potential Flonase loss of smell.
Well, truthfully, I had forgotten all of that. Until it became more apparent to me that I couldn’t smell what other people smelled. It isn’t something you really notice unless someone points it out either.
You don’t wake up and think ‘Wow! My sense of smell is gone’. It’s more like everybody else in the car says ‘that smells good’ and you’re just sitting there blankly and confused.
I did a ton of research and found out through many scientific studies that Flonase’s active ingredient actually does damage your nose receptors. But I go in-depth about this study and another study that disagrees with the notion of Flonase ruining your sense of smell.
So what is causing the Flonase loss of smell side effect? Is it reversible? Let’s discuss it.
Does Flonase Kill Your Sense of Smell?
Yes. Flonase does kill your sense of smell. It is scientifically proven that the zinc compound in Flonase damages nerves in the nose (although we will cover this later).
While not everybody experiences the side effect, it is widely reported. In fact, I can attest that Flonase did kill my sense of smell.
It seems to almost have been part of a big cover-up scheme. As many sites have redacted the idea that Flonase is known to remove your sense of smell.
Flonase Caused My Loss of Smell
Flonase caused my loss of smell. If I don’t take Flonase for a little bit, a lot of it will come back- but not all of it.
This is a dilemma however. I either suffer during allergy season or have a sense of smell.
Generally what I end up doing is not taking Flonase during the winter months, as my allergies are not as bad then.
That works perfectly until I go inside somewhere with cats, dogs, or even random grass growing in their house? (Why would you EVER grow timothy grass inside your house? Do you hate me? Why?)
Then my allergies start kicking up big time. While I will attest that Flonase is incredibly powerful, the loss of smell can be a little rough.
Does It Really Matter That Flonase Caused A Loss of Smell?
Honestly speaking, I don’t miss my sense of smell to be honest. Sure- I’d love to have it back, but I really don’t notice it too much.
I really thought that if I was missing my smell, it would be super obvious, or I’d notice it, but truthfully I haven’t. It’s not even something I really remember day-to-day, it’s just for the most part gone.
I can smell a strong perfume or cologne, or super bad smells here and there. But the majority of the smells seem to be blocked out.
Is It a Bad Thing?
I don’t know if losing my smell was necessarily a bad thing per se.
Bad smells I often don’t have to really ‘endure’. And any annoying perfumes or other smells I don’t have to deal with.
I can smell some extreme variations, but overall its’ limited when on Flonase.
And I’m not really in a position where smell is critical to my job. Sure, it can be helpful, but I can usually rely on a K9 friend if that’s where the job is headed for the day.
Was The Flonase Loss of Smell All Covered Up?
It seems that while thousands of people search this up yearly, very few publications are talking about the flonase loss of smell effect.
However, the truth will still come out one day.
One of the most bold statements was back in 2015 when a quote started circulating around the internet that Flonase had caused a 90% reduction in smell and taste in one woman.
While not many scientists have tackled this, one group led by Chandrashekhar S. Muganurmath took this huge objective on.
A Scientific Study Into The Flonase Loss of Smell Side Effect
When I was younger, I had googled the flonase loss of smell side effect but nothing really came back.
Luckily, in 2018, researches released a scientific study called, “Causality Assessment of Olfactory and Gustatory Dysfunction Associated with Intranasal Fluticasone Propionate: Application of the Bradford Hill Criteria”.
Holy smokes is that a big title! And it uses a lot of medical terms- so let’s break it down a bit.
Basically that title is saying that they are trying to assess damages related to smell and taste from Flonase.
What Do They Find?
The researchers while noting that these medicines are ‘known’ to cause taste and smell issues- could not find a ‘direct’ correlation between the two.
Essentially they were saying there is no direct number or way to tell if the loss of smell and taste is associated with Flonase or not.
This was because many of the statistics just weren’t there. If you’re running a scientific study lie this, you may expect, say, 25% of the people studied reported said side effect, but this was not the case.
But why? (And we will discuss another scientific study that directly correlates Flonase to damaging the nose).
There Were Big Limitations in This Study
It’s hard to do a study like this for many reasons. Firstly, think about it, our noses and taste are already screwed up as it is
Most people taking Flonase aren’t doing it for ‘the heck of it’- it’s because they have severe allergies and other problems.
This means they may be taking more medicines already, may have already suffered nasal damage, or have had other surgeries related to their nose.
Who’s to say that these taste and smell problems weren’t directly associated to that?
People Aren’t Really Sure When They’ve Lost Their Smell or Taste Either
As I mentioned earlier in the article- you don’t really know when you’ve lost your smell. It’s not something really prevalent or noticeable.
While it sounds impossible to just notice you don’t smell anymore, you’d be surprised! I even thought I would notice instantly, but here I was months later just piecing the puzzle together.
But that ends up being a problem in this study.
It’s really hard to examine loss of smell.
It’s not as noticeable as losing an arm or anything- a smell can be dramatically different to everybody based on distance, height, etc.
Was The Study Incredibly Biased?
A commenter, Hannah, made an excellent point stating that the medical study is actually backed by the same company that makes Flonase.
So- it’s VERY possible that this study was super biased!
Why Does Flonase Cause a Loss in Smell and Taste?
Truth be told- there are a lot of reasons Flonase can cause a loss in smell and taste. However, the main reason is that the active compound includes Zinc, which is scientifically proven to damage the nose.
Flonase’s Zinc Compound Damages Nerves in The Nose
The FDA released a statement nearly 11 years ago that the zinc compound in a popular nasal spray, Zicam, damages nerves in the nose.
Scientific Study ‘Anosmia after Intranasal Zinc Gluconate Use’ – PROVES Flonase Causes Nasal Damage
A study back in 2004 called, ‘Anosmia after Intranasal Zinc Gluconate Use’ looked into this and ruled that, yes, nasal sprays including Flonase damage the nose.
In fact, here is the direct quote:
…the severe hyposmia or anosmia appears to be long lasting or permanent in some cases. The mechanism of olfactory loss is thought to be the direct action of the divalent zinc ion on the olfactory receptor cell.Anosmia after Intranasal Zinc Gluconate Use
Bruce W. Jafek, M.D., Miriam R. Linschoten, Ph.D., Bruce W. Murrow, M.D., Ph.D.
So…what does this mean?
They are saying that the zinc ion is interacting with the olfactory receptor cell.
The olfactory receptor cell is the part of your nose that actually ‘detects’ smells and reacts to them. The zinc is directly damaging this.
This means ultimately your ‘smelling’ detectors in your nose will get damaged.
Flonase Stopping Nose Regeneration
One thing is for certain- that Flonase is scientifically known to stop your nose from regenerating properly.
Flonase reduces inflammation in your nose by reducing some of the blood flow to many of the receptors present.
Firstly, this works- but second, it slows down the regeneration of dead cells and other tissue.
Secondly, nasal sprays are proven and known to cause irritation in the mucosa of the nose. This means your skin can break and start bleeding after taking the spray.
This delays recovery by reopening wounds.
In fact, many people recommend avoiding taking Flonase for a few days if you get a really bad nosebleed or can’t stop having them!
Reversing Flonase’s Loss of Smell Side Effect Damage
Trying to reverse the flonase loss of smell side effect is tough. And to be honest, some of the damage is likely permanent.
However- many people report that just not taking Flonase for a few weeks can bring back a lot of the smell sense you used to have.
This suggests that maybe a lot of the nose can actually repair most of its’ olfactories, but science still argues on how effective it really is.
Personally, if you DON’T need to take Flonase, I wouldn’t.
Let’s say you see that for the next few weeks pollen counts are going to be at an all-time low, maybe lay off for a few weeks.
Or- during the winter time before spring hits, it may be good to take a break.
It all depends on what allergies you have. But my recommendation is to NOT take it 365 days a year if possible.
Ultimately, science has proven that there is a flonase loss of smell side effect.
But- Flonase is a powerful antihistamine, and for many people that suffer from heavy allergies, it’s a must-have.
And to be honest, losing the sense of smell isn’t that bad. And I hardly notice it. Sure, the case is closed and the verdict is in, but does it really matter?
Let me know in the comments below. Do you wish your sense of smell was back?
9 thoughts on “Flonase Loss of Smell – Scientifically Proven”
Something else that may be worth pointing out: in the 2018 “Casuality Assessment” study, it’s stated at the end that the authors are all employees and stockholders at GSK, the pharmaceutical company that makes Flonase. Talk about covering your tracks.
Thank you for commenting!
I read your comment, and I did some research. Turns out- you’re completely right.
That was incredibly surprising to me. In fact, I’ve edited the post to point this out.
This is obviously a biased study. And they didn’t even cover their tracks!
Wow! Excellent find!
Of course I wish my sense of smell was back! I’ve been off Flonase for 3 mo or more and I am just now starting to get some slight sense of smells back. I don’t know when it happened I just noticed it one day. There’s a lot of smells I really miss and am depressed about maybe not smelling again, What is most aggravating is the kind of phantom smells I keep sensing throughout the day. I think it’s when I am around a strong smell that I can’t smell. I cannot definitely know, why and when it happens. It’s also been really tough to think about the danger of not sensing a gas smell or just never smelling a rose again. Yes I wish I knew about this side effect. I think I would not have been using it as often and as long term as I did. I’m surviving fine without it. (Well, wait till April and I’ll let you know!)
I agree! While flonase definitely helps me day to day, I’ve started transitioning to an approach of not using it during the winter months where allergens are low to try and minimize the potential nasal damage. I also worry about not smelling dangerous gases. Let me know in April if you’re able to survive the allergy season without it haha!
Please have a great rest of your day,
I used Flonase for about a month, maybe two and lost my sense of smell. It’s been 2 years and it des impact my life. If I had know this was a possibility, I wouldn’t have used it.
Thank you for writing in!
I think they should be more transparent about the side effects. From what I’ve heard, it is more rare and really only effects the people that use Flonase for years on end, similar to you and I. I think for most people that use it seasonally it isn’t really an issue, but I’ve been afflicted by it.
Flonase really helps me in my day-to-day life, so I can’t really give it up. But, sometimes that loss of smell isn’t always a bad thing!