Smell Or Taste Loss Can Pose Certain Health Risks
Not being able to smell can be frustrating, but the symptom can also bring with it more serious risks. If you have loss of smell, youre unable to smell rancid food or a gas leak, says Del Signore. Its an everyday safety issue.
The loss can also take a psychological and emotional toll. Some people become depressed, and people can get despondent if theyre with friends or family and they cant taste the food, says Doty. People dont relate to their problem, so they learn to shut up about it. It becomes debilitating, and they change their social behaviors, so they become very insular.
Patients who are struggling with anosmia should seek medical attention, even if theyve since recovered from COVID-19 or are not even sure the virus was the cause.
The Good News Is That Various Studies Have Suggested That For People Whose Olfactory Perception Has Been Damaged After A Viral Infection Repeated Short
The way we sense odours is through a cluster of nerve cells called olfactory sensory neurons, which are located high up at the back of the nose in a structure called the olfactory bulb. These neurons have tiny hair-like projections which extend out into the mucous-covered nasal lining and respond to odour molecules that we breathe out through our noses.
Early in the pandemic, scientists feared that SARS-CoV-2 might be triggering smell loss by infecting these olfactory neurons and then making its way into the brain, where it might cause lasting damage. Further research revealed that these neurons lack the ACE2 receptors the virus uses to infect cells, but they are found on support cells in the nasal lining which interact with these neurons.
How Seriously Does Covid Affect Smell And Taste
By combing a Facebook support group, medical researchers from the UK found that individuals whose smell and taste were altered due to COVID-19 experienced significant physical and psychological effects, including decreased pleasure in cooking and eating, weight fluctuations, poor emotional well-being, and difficulties with social bonding.
Although most patients recovered their sense of taste and smell in a few weeks, about 10 percent had persisting symptoms like parosmia, which can distort familiar odors for a person. Some with parosmia report that scents that normally appear sweet or pleasant can smell rotten or foul. According to the study authors, those with persisting changes in taste or smell can feel as if they have an invisible illness, which leads to isolating thoughts.
Also Check: How Long Does A Cvs Rapid Test Take
How To Regain Sense Of Taste After Covid
Most people who lose their sense of taste and smell after a bout of COVID-19 eventually regain it.
Unfortunately, theres no proven effective treatment to speed up this recoveryit often just takes time. In one study, 53 out of 54 French patients experienced a full recovery of anosmia in 28 days.
A Danish study, however, found 41% of those with taste dysfunction hadnt regained it after six weeks.
A Google search will lead to lots of ideas for how to help regain your sense of taste after COVID-19, and it cant hurt to try them with your doctors OK.
Some interesting possible treatments, such as biting into an onion or eating a charred orange, could actually help your body form new nerve pathways to recover your sense of smell and taste.
One review from 2020 suggests olfactory training, or retraining yourself to smell, worked better than methods such as steroids and acupuncture.
Ok So What Else Can You Do To Help Revive Your Senses Of Taste And Smell After Covid
Its not a popular answer, but generally, you simply have to wait for the senses to return. Dr. White-Dominguez says it could take an average of four to eight weeks, or even longer, for your senses to return back to normal.
Additionally, there have been some experiments done with higher dose steroid therapies, to try to reduce inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages in hopes of returning a persons sense of smell, but nothing meaningful has come from it yet, Dr. Gonsenhauser says.
However, Dr. Holbrook says you can try something called scent training, which involves finding a strong smell and inhaling it while focusing on what the scent should be like. This may work by stimulating the nerve cells in your nose damaged by COVID-19, explains Dr. White-Dominguez. She adds it can also retrain the brain to make connections back to familiar scents.
Someresearch has shown people have an improvement in the ability to smell compared to a control group after undergoing scent training. Not everybody responds the same, Dr. Holbrook says, but this is something non-invasive and easy to perform and is recommended.
And hey, if you simply want to eat an orangego ahead. The fruit is rich in vitamin C and other good-for-you nutrients. Just dont get your hopes up for a quick fix.
Also Check: How Much Is A Cvs Covid Test
Dr Nahid Bhadelia: Coronavirus Is Set To Be
Emi Boscamp, 28, a food editor at TODAY in New York City who was sick with COVID-19 in mid-March, said that one of her favorite herbs, cilantro, now smells “disgustingly soapy.” She added that garlic and onions smell “putrid but taste fine.” While her senses slowly returned over about six weeks, she dealt with anxiety as a result. “Ill have to have a new job. I cant be speaking about food if I cant even taste it,” she thought, at the time.
Jamie Glass, 47, of Monclair, New Jersey, told TODAY that she was sick in mid-March but still occasionally notices a “burnt plastic smell” and a “plastic-y taste” in her mouth. She’s taken to adding extra seasoning to her cooking to compensate.
“Its a little numbing, to be honest,” she said. “You dont realize how much … being able to smell something can make you feel hungry.”
Both Datta and Iloreta noted that existing research links loss of smell to depression and anxiety.
Loss Of Smell And Taste Can Linger After Covid Or Come Back Different
Before the pandemic, Dr. Jennifer Spicer used to savor waking up early. In those quiet morning hours, she’d get precious alone time with her dog and brew up a mug of her favorite coffee, using beans from an Atlanta roaster.
Now, she can barely take a sip without spitting the coffee out. Once a source of gustatory pleasure, her coffee now has a chemical smell and taste that Spicer can no longer tolerate.
“I cannot even go in a coffee shop. It smells so bad,” said Spicer, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. “It’s really awful.”
The abrupt change in Spicer’s senses has, by now, an all-too-common culprit: Covid-19. She had a relatively mild case of the virus last summer in addition to losing her senses of taste and smell, she also had a fever, chills and fatigue for about a week. Her sense of smell and taste did eventually return but not like before.
Now, Spicer said, certain foods and drinks smell and taste bad. Really bad.
“It ranges from an unpleasant chemical taste to a rotten meat taste,” Spicer said, adding that a recent bite of cheese tasted like chalk. Things are starting to improve, but it’s been nearly six months since she was infected.
The research included more than 2,500 patients in France, Belgium and Italy. The majority regained their senses within about two months.
Read Also: How Much Is A Rapid Test At Cvs
What Does It Imply To Be A Covid
These persons do not show any indications or symptoms of the disease for the whole incubation period after contracting it, which could persist for up to 14 days. As a result, they spread the infection to many people, accelerating the pandemics spread and making it more hazardous. Yes, infected people can spread the virus both when they have symptoms and when they dont. This is why all infected individuals must be discovered by testing, quarantined, and treated medically, depending on the severity of their illness.
Another effective method is anosmia. You can recover your sense of smell with the help of olfactory exercises and aromatherapy. Your body will recognize what foods are good for you during the process. You can also try smelling things with your eyes, but you must be careful as COVID can cause permanent damage to your sensory system. The first step to getting your sense of smell back is to avoid COVID.
Is It Possible To Retrain Your Nose And Get Back Your Sense Of Taste And Smell After Covid
Dr. Jennifer Reavis Decker at the UCHealth Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, has helped her patients, some of whom are children, to retrain their sense of smell by using strongly-scented essential oils . It is called olfactory retraining.
The sense of smell is closely linked to memory, she says, especially pleasant memories. Thats why using peanut butter or peppermint candy with children makes more sense than something like the odor of clove or jasmine, of which they typically have little memory or, surely, pleasant ones.
The cookie recipe here is peanut buttery but not overly sweet, so not to distract the palate from tasting sweetness over the nut butters aroma. The ginger-based shot is powerfully aromatic and flavorful. When swallowing, be sure to push some air up through the rear nasal cavity so that you get a strong smell of it, too.
Also Check: How Much Is A Pcr Test At Cvs
First Why Do Some People Lose Their Senses Of Taste And Smell After Covid
This is a common side effect of viruses that replicate in your nose and throat, says Richard Watkins, M.D., infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University. Viruses can cause inflammation and swelling in your nasal passages and that can cause congestion, tamping down your senses in the process.
Additional research aimed to explain exactly why COVID affects taste and smell found that COVID-19 attacks cells in your nose that arent directly responsible for your sense of smell but eventually cause inflammation that makes your senses perform inefficiently. Other theories point to potential brain damage from COVID-19 that could impact taste and smell.
But why this symptom lingers in some people is not totally clear. The receptors for the virus have been found in the special lining of the nasal cavity that contains the olfactorysmellnerves that are the first to detect odors in the air, explains anosmia researcher Eric Holbrook, M.D., director of rhinology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and associate professor in OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Although these receptors have not been found on the nerves themselves, the surrounding damage from the infection likely causes the smell loss.
Your sense of smell is closely connected with your ability to taste, he adds, hence the loss of smell and taste.
Loss Of Smell Affects Our Health And Quality Of Life
Our senses smell, vision, hearing, taste, and touch are bridges that connect us to the world we live in, to life itself. Knock out two of the five bridges, and 40% of our sensory input is gone. Senses add richness and texture to everyday life they are intricately tied in with our emotions. The loss of smell or taste might not seem as drastic as the shortness of breath or debilitating fatigue that many other people have experienced post-COVID, yet the impact can still be quite demoralizing. You can no longer smell the familiar scent of your loved ones, or taste your favorite dish. Author and poet Diane Ackerman describes these special tastes and smells as “the heady succulence of life” itself.
The loss of smell and taste can also affect our health, causing poor appetite and undesired weight loss. No longer able to enjoy food, patients with anosmia may no longer eat enough, or skip meals altogether. It can even pose an existential threat, by putting us at risk in detecting fires, gas leaks, or spoiled food.
Recommended Reading: How Much Does A Rapid Test Cost At Cvs
When Will Smell Taste Come Back 5 Covid
Temporary loss of smell, known as anosmia, is a commonly reported indicator of COVID-19.
Losing your sense of smell and taste can be jarring and emotional, and adjusting to the seemingly muted world can be difficult at first. However, research looks promising for COVID-19 patients with anosmia, though scientists say there’s still a lot unknown.
Here’s what we know about anosmia related to COVID-19 thus far:
How does it happen?
The novel coronavirus likely changes the sense of smell in patients not by directly infecting neurons, but by affecting the function of supporting cells, said Sandeep Robert Datta, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology at Boston-based Harvard Medical School. Dr. Datta co-authored a study published July 31 in Science Advances, and its findings identify the olfactory cell types in the upper nasal cavity as most vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Justin Turner, MD, PhD, associate professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and medical director of Nashville-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Smell and Taste Center, said May 21 that the primary cause of smell loss appears to be from an inflammatory reaction inside the nose that can lead to a loss of the olfactory neurons.
Who loses their smell?
Smell loss can be one of the first or only signs of disease and may precede symptoms such as cough and fever, Dr. Turner said, citing spring data from VUMC’s Smell and Taste Center.
Will COVID-19 patients get their sense of smell back?
How To Check For A Loss Of Flavour Or Odour
Its important to understand that COVID will affect your sense of smell and taste, and the disease affects your sensory nerves and taste receptors on your tongue. If you suffer from COVID, youll notice a loss of both. While its essential to seek medical help for your COVID, it is also essential to remain patient. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor about your recovery and your condition.
To check for a loss of taste at home, a person should try dishes with a lot of seasoning and see if they can identify any flavor differences. A persons sense of smell can be tested by smelling two items with solid and contrasting odors, such as coffee granules and an orange, separately to see if they can perceive any differences.
Absent a UK charity that helps people with smell and taste problems, has a handy checklist that can be used to test and track smell loss at home. The questions can be applied to flavor instead if someone wants to use the checklist to track a loss of flavor. Different tests are used by doctors to determine a loss of taste and smell, and they might do a drink, spit, and rinse test to determine a loss of flavor. They can utilize Trusted Source, a booklet containing tiny beads that generate diverse aromas when scratched, to confirm a loss of smell.
Because rapid loss of taste and smell could be an early indicator of COVID-19, anyone who encounters it should begin self-isolating and seeking medical help. Obtain a COVID-19 examination.
You May Like: Are You Guaranteed To Get Covid If Exposed
Researchers Study Impact Of Coronavirus On Childrens Brains
Datta’s research, released in late July, found that one potential reason this could happen is that the virus may infect what he called “support cells” in the nose. These are not the cells that actually detect odors rather, they’re the cells that help those sensory neurons function properly.
“We think that in the people who have longer lasting anosmia, maybe the long-term lack of support from these cells actually causes the sensory neurons to die,” he explained. “The sensory neurons have to be regenerated … and one possibility is that in people with COVID, that might actually take extra long.”
As a result, the parosmia may arise when those sensory neurons are “reborn” and have to reintegrate into the body’s olfactory system all over again, Datta said. He added that for taste, it seems like both support cells and actual taste cells “might be infectible” by the coronavirus, and the underlying mechanism behind taste alterations has “similarities” to smell.
Right now, it’s not known why some patients’ senses return normally and others’ don’t.
How To Regain Taste After Covid
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, congestion, or runny nose.
But COVID-19 can also result in other, less common symptoms, like a loss of taste or smell.
More than 85% of patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 reported problems with their sense of smell, and about the same number of people reported changes in their ability to taste.
While losing your sense of taste or smell can be alarming, it can be part of any respiratory illness.
The difference with COVID-19 is that the loss of taste or smell is often the first symptom people experienceand sometimes, its the only symptom.
Luckily, many COVID-19 patients regain their sense of taste and smell over time, but its still important to seek medical advice if you experience these.
If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, talk to a doctor, who can diagnose you and recommend the best ways to manage your symptoms.
In this article, Ill explain why you lose your sense of taste with COVID-19, and what to do if your sense of taste suddenly disappears.
Ill also explain how to regain your sense of taste. Ill outline when you should see a doctor, and how K Health can help.
Recommended Reading: How Much Is The Rapid Test At Cvs