Why does food feel tasteless when we have a cold?

            There is a close link between the sense of taste and the sense of smell. Much of what we think of as taste has a big smell component. The taste buds in the tongue monitor relatively crude sensation of the four basic tastes – sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Faint vapours of whatever we eat drift into the nasal cavity where the smell receptors add more detail to the information given by the taste buds.

When we have a cold our nose becomes blocked and the sensation of smell ceases. The gas and vapours from the food cannot be sensed by the smell receptors; consequently we cannot perceive the smell or aroma of the food, which in turn makes the food appear tasteless.