Skip to main content

What medications can affect your taste or smell?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on March 15, 2022.

Official answer


Hundreds of medications may alter your sense of taste or smell. Below are examples of commonly used drugs that may cause a change in your taste or smell.

Drugs that can affect both taste and smell:

Drugs reported to affect taste only:

A common drug that affects only smell is the steroid prednisolone.

Changes in smell or taste

Changes include loss, decreased, increased or unpleasant changes in smell or taste. Some of these changes are a result of the ingredients in the drug, but most are due to the way the drug changes nerve sensation, chemicals or enzymes in the body. It could take months or years for a taste or smell disorder to develop from a drug, making it sometimes difficult to diagnose. According to a 2018 review in the World Journal of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, studies and reviews show that more than 350 drugs can cause changes in taste, and more than 70 drugs can cause changes in smell. Many drugs cause both.

  • Although some drugs can cause loss of taste (ageusia), the most common changes are a decreased (hypogeusia) or unpleasant/altered taste (dysgeusia).
  • Most taste changes are described as bitter, and some as metallic or sour.
  • Smell changes include increased, decreased and unpleasant smell.
  • It is hard to predict how any medication will affect a person’s taste or smell because different people respond differently.

Older people who take more drugs are at highest risk for changes in taste or smell because they take more types of drugs, and drugs may interact with each other to cause these changes. These changes can be unpleasant and affect quality of life, but the main problem is that they may stop people from taking drugs that they need.

If you have changes in smell or taste that make it hard for you to take a drug, do not stop on your own. Tell your health care provider. Your provider may be able to change the drug for you or suggest methods to improve your sense of taste or smell.

Some practical tips include:

  • Chewing gum or ice or oral rinsing to remove unpleasant taste
  • Adding food flavorings
  • Chewing food well
  • Switching between foods while eating
  1. Schiffman SS. Influence of medications on taste or smell. World J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surgery. 2018 Mar 26;4(1):84-91.
  2. Rademacher WMH, Aziz Y, Hielema A, et al. Oral adverse effects of drugs: taste disorders. Oral Diseases. 2019 Sept 18;26(1):213-223.

Related medical questions

Drug information

Related support groups