Covid Long Haulers: Long
What happens when COVID-19 symptoms dont go away? In some people who recover from COVID-19, lingering health problems can wreak havoc for months.
Tae Chung, M.D., a specialist in neurology and physical medicine and rehabilitation Megan Hosey, Ph.D., an expert in rehabilitation psychology, Arun Venkatesan, M.D., Ph.D., a specialist in neurology Amanda Morrow, M.D., an expert in pediatric rehabilitation medicine and Emily Brigham, M.D., M.P.H., who specializes in lung disease and critical care, discuss long-term COVID-19, what symptoms are most common and what those affected by them can expect.
If Your Food Tastes Like These 2 Things You May Have Covid
A simple taste test could reveal COVID cases.
By now, COVID’s strangest symptomloss of smellhas been well documented and widely discussed. But fewer people know that another, related sign of coronavirus may also tip you off to a diagnosis: an altered sense of taste. Many COVID patients report losing their ability to taste food or experience a major change in their palettesometimes recalling familiar things. The most commonly reported flavors, regardless of what’s actually on the menu? Paper and cardboard.
As NPR reports, Rachel Kaye, MD, a professor of otolaryngology at Rutgers University, received an overwhelming number of calls from fellow medical professionals about patients experiencing this particular phenomenon. “I got a lot of, ‘Everything tastes like cardboard’ and ‘I can’t smell anything,’ ” Kaye explained to NPR. She noted that many of those patients had no other known COVID symptoms, but many of them tested positive for coronavirus within two weeks after the calls. Kaye said she heard at least “two dozen” stories from other doctors fielding these same types of concerns.
While people often view loss of taste or smell as an unlikely symptom, studies have shown that up to 80 percent of those with COVID experience it. Thankfully, there’s some good news if you’ve lost that particular sensation: it’s typically associated with less severe bouts of the virus, and may indicate a simpler recovery.
Its Been Months Since I Had Covid
MIT Medical answers your COVID-19 questions. Got a question about COVID-19? Send it to us at , and well do our best to provide an answer.
I tested positive for COVID-19 back in September. My loss of smell and taste was quick and drastic. Since then, my sense of smell has slowly and partially returned. But three months later, my sense of taste remains drastically reduced. I can somewhat taste foods that are strong with flavor, but for most foods, theres still nothing. Will my senses especially my sense of taste get back to their pre-COVID levels? Are there any treatments that might help?
These are among the most common questions we get these days. Sadly, you are far from alone in experiencing an ongoing loss of smell and/or taste following recovery from COVID-19. But unfortunately, at this point, there is no proven treatment and no guarantee of full recovery.
We know less about how the virus causes loss of taste. It may be related to olfactory dysfunction, since odors are a crucial part of flavor perception. But true ageusia, where people cannot detect even sweet or salty flavors, can also occur. Some individuals with COVID-19 even lose chemical sensing the ability to detect, for example, the burn of spicy food, which is moderated by pain-sensing nerves. While taste receptor cells do not contain ACE2, other support cells in the tongue do, as do some pain-sensing nerves in the mouth, so these cells may be susceptible to infection.
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Getting Sick With Covid Was Hard Losing My Mom To Covid Was Harder
My parents, husband, and I were invited to a family member’s birthday dinner at a local restaurant on October 19. I decided to stay home. My entire family contracted COVID-19 that night at the restaurant. They all used masks, as mandated in our state, but they took them off at the table.
I began to feel minor symptoms such as body aches the last week of October. Eventually, I had severe body ache, low-grade fever, chills, shakiness, cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of smell, loss of taste, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. I am still experiencing extreme fatigue, brain fog, difficulty breathing, and diarrhea. There are days I can hike, clean the house, and work. There are other days I’m lucky if I have the energy to shower. I am still testing positive eight weeks after my initial diagnosis. I am unable to continue my fertility treatments until I am able to produce a negative COVID-19 test.
It’s been hard. I feel there is a certain stigma if you get COVID-19. I feel depressed at times and also angry. You’re really left alone to fight this virus. The grief and physical aftereffects of COVID are too much some days. Im just taking it one day at a time. Milka D., 40
The First Thing I Did Was Put My Head In The Coffee Jar
Proteus Duxbury, a healthcare technology officer in Colorado, spoke with Kaiser Health News about his own experience of losing his sense of taste. After experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms in early March, Duxbury noticed that his meal had no flavor or aroma. I didnt have cough, headache, fever or shortness of breath, he explained, but everything tasted like cardboard. The first thing I did every morning was put my head in the coffee jar and take a real deep breath. Nothing. Six months after his recovery from coronavirus, Duxbury shares that his sense of smell and taste have returned, but are slightly dulled.
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Can You Check Your Smell At Home
Yes, there are several ways to accurately test your sense of smell at home, experts say. One is the jellybean test.
“You take a jellybean in one hand, and with the other hand you hold your nose tightly so you’re not getting any air flow,” Steven Munger, director of the Center for Smell and Taste at the University of Florida, told CNN in a prior interview.
“You put the jellybean in your mouth, and chew it. Let’s say it’s a fruit flavor jellybean: if you get the savory plus the sweetness of the jellybean you’ll know you have functional taste,” Munger said.
“Then, while still chewing, suddenly release your nose. If you have a sense of smell you’ll suddenly get all the odours and you’ll say ‘Oh! that’s a lemon jellybean,’ or ‘Oh! that’s cherry.’ It’s really a very dramatic, quick, ‘Wow’ type of response,” he explained.
“If you can go from sweet and sour to the full flavor and know what the flavor is,” Munger said, “then your sense of smell is probably in pretty good shape.”
The scientific name for this process is retro nasal olfaction, where the odours flow from the back of your mouth up through your nasal pharynx and into your nasal cavity.
But what if you don’t have a jellybean? You can use other foods too, said ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Erich Voigt, director of the division of sleep otolaryngology at NYU Langone Health.
But you have to be careful, because it’s easy to think you’re using your sense of smell when you’re not, Voigt said.
Are Treatments Available For Restoring These Senses
A lack of research means few established treatments exist. But one option is smell training, in which people sniff prescribed odours regularly to relearn them. Hopkins is working with a charity called AbScent in Andover, UK, to get the word out to the public about this training. There is evidence from before the pandemic that it can improve smell function in some people with such impairments, but it doesnt seem to work for everyone.
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How Common Is This Symptom
The reported prevalence of a loss of smell and taste with COVID-19 varies greatly across studies.
A recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings took a deep dive into how common a loss of smell or taste is in COVID-19. Researchers reviewed results from 24 studies, which represented data from over 8,000 people with a confirmed case of COVID-19. They found the following:
- The reported prevalence for loss of smell ranged from 3.2 percent to 98.3 percent. The average prevalence of loss of smell was calculated to be about 41 percent.
- The reported prevalence for loss of taste was between 5.6 percent to 62.7 percent. The average prevalence for loss of taste was calculated to be about 38.2 percent.
- Older age correlated with a lower prevalence of loss of smell or taste.
- No difference in the prevalence of either symptom was seen in men versus women. However,
If you believe that you may have COVID-19, stay home and try to isolate yourself from others in your household.
Contact your doctor to discuss your symptoms. Your doctor can also advise you on getting tested and how to care for yourself if you test positive for COVID-19.
Most of the time, mild cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home. However, in some cases the illness can become more serious. This is more likely in older adults and in individuals with certain underlying health conditions, such as:
Long Covid Can Lead To Kidney Damage Or Failure Even In Milder Cases New Research Suggests
COVID-19 “long-haulers” can suffer symptoms long after clearing the coronavirus, including organ damage. Scientists are still discovering the mysterious ways COVID-19 lingers.
COVID-19 has confused health and medical experts since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic in late 2019 and early 2020. Caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, the disease has killed at least 4.5 million people worldwide, and more than 600,000 people just in the US. Although most people who are infected will develop mild or moderate symptoms — or none at all — scientists are continuing to research symptoms of the coronavirus that linger with potentially damaging effects.
“Long COVID,” also referred to as “long-haul COVID” or “chronic COVID” is a condition where a person continues to experience symptoms of COVID-19 after their body has cleared the virus. Long COVID comes under the umbrella of Post-COVID conditions, which the CDC describes as “new, returning or ongoing health problems” caused by the disease more than a month after infection.
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For those hospitalized with COVID-19, the risk of developing kidney damage or failure is even higher. For those admitted to the ICU with COVID-19, the risk was higher still: Patients were 13 times more likely to develop end-stage kidney disease, the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported.
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How And When Do Symptoms Progress
If you have mild disease, fever is likely to settle within a few days and you are likely to feel significantly better after a week – the minimum time at which you can leave self-isolation is ten days.
You may continue coughing for a couple of weeks – while you should be very careful to maintain social distancing, as everyone should, you don’t need to stay in isolation just because your cough has not completely resolved. If you’re well in other respects, your likelihood of infecting others at this stage is low.
Loss of sense of smell can also persist – in many patients this has continued for several months. However, persistence of a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste is not a reason to continue to self-isolate if your other symptoms have settled. If you still have a fever after ten days, you must stay in self-isolation.
In people with more severe infection, shortness of breath is likely to become more marked 7-10 days after they develop symptoms. This occurs because the infection takes hold deep in your lungs, leading to inflammation which prevents efficient transfer of oxygen from your lungs to your bloodstream. Symptoms can develop rapidly and worsen in minutes.
Even if you have completed the form before and been advised you do not need medical help, you need to call 999 if:
- You are too breathless to speak more than a few words or
- Your breathing has become harder and faster in the last hour, even when you are not doing anything.
How To Regain Sense Of Smell After Covid
The symptoms are usually temporary, with most medical publications agreeing that a patients taste and smell significantly improve or return within four weeks.
However, if youre trying to move things along quicker or yours still has t returned, the NHS suggests that cleaning the inside of your nose can help.
As per the website, rinsing the inside of your nose with a saltwater solution may help if your sense of smell is affected by an infection or allergy.
You can make a saltwater solution at home, or check with a pharmacy for ready-made products.
The steps for cleaning out your nose are:
- Boil a pint of water, then leave it to cool.
- Mix a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda into the water.
- Wash your hands.
- Stand over a sink, cup the palm of 1 hand and pour a small amount of the solution into it.
- Sniff some of the solution up 1 nostril at a time and let it run out of your nose. It might help to hold your other nostril closed with your finger as you sniff.
- Repeat these steps a few times to see if it helps.
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I Was Lucky Enough To Have A Mild Case So My Symptoms Weren’t That Bad What Burdened Me Most Was Not Knowing If I Had Spread It To Anyone
The hardest part for me throughout this entire journey was not the loss of appetite or taste, nor the fever, cough, or body aches. It was the anxiety, guilt, and worry that inevitably comes with having coronavirus.
I was anxious to let others know that I had contracted COVID-19 out of fear that they would ostracize and be afraid of me . However, once I shared my story on social media, I was greeted with a flood of support and kind words from friends and family.
If you, too, are dealing with anxiety and fear like many of us are , logging off social media, and finding positive activities that keep your mind occupied. Take a safe, daily walk outside for a change in scenery. And, most importantly, stay hopeful, because this will not last forever.
A Million New Survivors With Chronically Diminished Senses
In the coming year, there will be at least a million new cases of people in the USA with chronically diminished senses of smell or taste because of COVID-19, Piccirillo predicted.
Studies published by the National Library of Medicine and the Journal of Internal Medicine suggest up to 80% of people who have COVID-19 symptoms experience smell or taste dysfunction. Some experience reduced ability to smell or taste. Some have a complete loss. And some experience distorted senses certain tastes and smells change or become unpleasant an increasingly common outcome, called parosmia.
Dr. Evan Reiter, an ENT and professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies the issue, said the rate of patients who report dysfunction with smell is similar to those having trouble with taste.
In general, anytime youre eating something, it hits the taste buds in your mouth, and youre smelling the vapors in your food at the same time, so your brain puts it all together to determine how you perceive the taste of food, Reiter said.
Most people regain their senses within a few weeks, but 5%-10% will continue to have symptoms after six months, Piccirillo said. Their senses may not ever return, he said.
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Cleaning Inside Your Nose Can Help
Rinsing the inside of your nose with a saltwater solution may help if your sense of smell is affected by an infection or allergy.
You can make a saltwater solution at home.
You do not need to use all of the solution, but make a fresh batch each day do not reuse any left over from the day before.
Some pharmacies sell sachets you can use to make a saltwater solution and devices to help you rinse your nose.
I Got Covid At Work And It Took A Couple Of Months For My Symptoms To Go Away
I contracted COVID-19 at a daycare I was working at in late spring. I was interacting with children who were participating in a summer daycare program. I had a low-grade fever and a dry cough. I could not taste anything, and I had congestion and a headache. I had body chills and aches. I was also extremely fatiguedI slept pretty much the whole day for several days. I also had some chest pain.
Most of my symptoms went away after about two weeks. However, I had some lingering chest pain for about a month. Also, about a month later, I had another period where I got a low-grade fever for a couple of days and had a cough. Im not dealing with lingering symptoms of COVID anymore. Im more so feeling fatigued with the quarantine and restrictions. Also, now that there is cold weather and less sunlight, Ive really needed to pay more attention to my own mental health. Autumn C., 27
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