Friday, February 03, 2017

WARNING: Don't use Flonase (fluticasone). Just don't.

Here is the biggest problem with viral respiratory infections. You can't just nuke them from orbit with antibiotics; you have to wait (and wait. and wait. and wait...) for them to go away. And after about 48 hours of following the standard advice of "stay warm, force fluids," etc., you start getting Really Tired of Being Sick. I can't sleep, I can't read (too woozy), I can't go anywhere or get any household stuff done (and it's all piling up)... ugh.

And thanks to my stupidity in taking a clinician's advice without exercising due diligence, I picked up and used a fluticasone-based nasal spray for four days, and now have what I SINCERELY HOPE is a TEMPORARY case of anosmia (a fancy term for "no sense of smell").

I can't really cook, because I rely on "season to taste" and now I can't taste well enough to season. I can't even heat up canned soup without being super vigilant about it, because if I get distracted and leave it on the stove, I can't rely on "what's that burning smell?" to inform me I've let it scorch and nearly destroyed a pot. (I'll leave you to guess whether I've just described a hypothetical scenario.) And I've been too sick to clean, so for all I know my home smells like a midden right now.

Having anosmia has taught me that humans actually have four base senses: sight, hearing, touch and smell. Taste is a subset of smelling; you can smell without tasting, but you really can't taste squat without smelling, as I've discovered over the last few days. With no working sense of smell, experiencing food largely comes down to a question of touch, of physical texture. I get sensations of warmth and cold, juiciness or dryness, crispiness or softness, and I get muted sensations of sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but with no aromatics to make flavors bloom, nourishment goes from being a blessing to a necessary chore. From past experiences, I know that a piece of dilled Havarti cheese should taste good. And it does have a nice smooth feel in the mouth. Beyond that, though, I get only the tiniest sensation of sourness, a little more saltiness, and that's it. The rich tang of a ripened cheese, the green herbal note of the dill -- all gone.

Just... no.

Why GlaxoSmithKline hasn't been sued out of existence for putting Flonase OTC and its generics on the market without a huge, detailed warning label ("May utterly destroy your ability to smell a natural gas leak") is beyond me. Anyway, learn from my fail and don't use products containing fluticasone unless you already have anosmia. I've discontinued using the fluticasone, but there's no guarantee my sense of smell or taste will ever come back. Much like everything else associated with being sick, I guess I'll just have to wait it out.


MarieC said...

This is awful! I hope your sense of smell returns soon!

Soozcat said...

Me too. I'm not sure there's any medical protocol to bring it back, but I'll ask the doctor.

Anonymous said...

Did it come back

Soozcat said...

It took about a week, but yes, thankfully, it did.

J Joyce said...

You are describing exactly what happened to me a couple of years ago after using Flonase for a few days. The doctors I saw for it thought it was likely due to something else, but I am convinced that it was this medication, and I know there are many other similar cases. Part of my taste has returned (certainly not all) and some of what has returned is highly altered. I can no longer drink 2 of my favorite beverages as their taste has become disgusting to me. In addition, I have almost started a fire more than once in the kitchen because I can no longer smell anything burning or ever gas. Quite a life changer. Thank goodness I didn't use this medication in my eyes!!!