Q. What can cause strange smell and yellowish orange tongue?

Answered by
Dr. Alok Rathi
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jul 28, 2018 and last reviewed on: Oct 14, 2020

Hi doctor,

I have been having a funny smell in my nose for the past several weeks. Additionally, I have a yellow and orange coating on my tongue. I have gone to my ENT last week not in regards to the smell but just as a follow up. All seemed to be clear except for some swelling. Since then the smell has gotten worse. I have a history of sinus issue and had sinus surgery a few years ago where there were polyps present. I continue to get allergy shots for my constant congestion and running nose. What I am wondering is if this could be reflux or related to my sinus issues even though the nasal endoscopy did not show anything visible. My regular doctor has put me on an antibiotic, but it has not helped in the past five days that I have been on it. Would like to get some feedback and possible reassurance that this is most likely not anything serious and can be treated. Please guide.



Welcome to

  • Do you mean to say you have funny smell? You have decreased smell or increased smell or altogether a different smell?
  • Decreased or increased smell is due to diseases of nose and anterior skull base, but different smell is usually psychological.
  • You had sinus issues, but was it always sinus blockage, discharge, sneezing and did you ever get surgery?
  • Do you have any swelling in nose or tongue? Since how long is it? Or has it been detected by doctor?
  • Since how long you have this coating on the tongue? Do you have any pain or fever associated with it?
  • Is there any difficulty in swallowing? Can I have the image of tongue?
  • Do you have any other medical disorder previously? How are your blood tests? When were they done last time?
  • Sorry to ask so many questions, but these are needed to assure you everything is normal.

Revert back with the asked details to an ENT otolaryngologist online -->

Hello doctor,

I have decreased smell for a few years now. The hope that the sinus surgery going to improve it, but it did not help. I had surgery two years ago. I was not able to taste for a while as well, but that came back since I have been taking Budesonide. But, the funny smell in my nose is new. I have not had it previously. I still continue to have congestion and post nasal drip especially at night. I just noticed the yellowish orange tongue as of a week ago; most of the coating is on the back. I just brushed my tongue and got off the coating, so I cannot get a picture now. It will probably be back by tomorrow morning. I had an endoscopy at ENT last week as a follow up visit from my surgery two years ago and all seemed fine except for some swelling in the sinuses, but no sign of infection. I have gastrointestinal issues. Had blood work and stool sample done and all was fine. I had other blood work up during the fall as well. Everything was normal. I just had a cervical herniated disc. I had a cervical MRI to diagnose that, but I doubt that has any connection. I do not have any pain or fever. There is no trouble while swallowing. Just a little more belching than normal. My main symptoms are the strange smell (lack of smell which has been going on for a while now) and the yellowish orange tongue. Hope this all helps.



Welcome back to

Thanks for the detailed history.

It suggests that you have chronic rhinosinusitis; you probably had associated nasal polyposis two years ago and got operated for that.Coating on tongue occasionally can be due to food you eat, medicine you take and hygiene you maintain.

Regarding smell, let me tell you that smell decreases and it may be gone in nasal polyps.

Return of normal smell is not predictable, but is dependent on how long you had anosmia (lack of smell).

As your taste returned back, that suggests me that some of your smell was back. Because, what we taste is a mix of inputs from tongue and nose, only tongue alone cannot produce normal taste.You have funny smell and some swelling in nose. This is nothing much serious.

You either has got those polyps again (may be at early stage) or you have this funny smell because of the drugs or nasal sprays you taking.

Nothing much serious, but if you were not anosmic for long time; you can get back smell normally, by using nasal corticosteroid sprays.

For further doubts consult an ENT otolaryngologist online -->

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