Smell And Taste Loss After Covid: Should You Be Worried
Since the earliest days of the pandemic, doctors treating people with COVID-19 noticed that a sudden loss of smell was a hallmark of the illness. As the vast majority of our sense of taste derives from our sense of smell, these COVID-19 patients also may have experienced a loss of taste as well.
After recovering from COVID-19, many patients fail to recover their sense of smell right away, and some may worry the situation could be permanent.
A recent study has encouraging news for these patients. The results showed that nearly all patients who lost their sense of smell after having COVID-19 regained the ability.
New Study Tests The Senses
The study enrolled 813 healthcare workers from the Quebec National Institute of Public Health four months after they tested positive for COVID-19. Five months after they were diagnosed, the subjects were asked to complete a home test that assessed their ability to taste and smell.
Additionally, an online questionnaire asked the participants to self-report any issues with smell and taste, as well as self-rating their senses from a scale of 0 to 10 .
About 71% of healthcare workers lost their sense of smell when they first tested positive for COVID-19. Five months later, 51.2% of the people in that group had not recovered their sense of smell. Based on the results of the home tests, 18.4% of the subjects showed a persistent loss of smell.
Approximately 64% reported losing their sense of taste when they had COVID-19. Five months later, 38% of the group said that they had not recovered their sense of taste.
Healthcare workers ranked their ability to smell an 8.98 out of 10 before becoming sick, a 2.85 during infection, and a 7.41 5 months after recovery. The ranks for their sense of taste were a bit higher, at 9.20 before infection, a 3.59 during infection, and an 8.05 5 months after recovery.
Tasting And Smelling Again: Glorious Glorious
For Jane Nilan, other COVID-19 symptoms went away within weeks, but smell and taste didnt return for three months. After about two months, I noticed those senses creeping back in, she said. I began to go to extremes to see how much I could taste, so my diet was full of hot curries, Mexican food and lots of spices. I was so afraid it would go away again, so I pushed myself right to the edge.
Nilan said that while a return to health has been a blessing, being able to enjoy her favorite foods is another one. I had no idea how important those senses were to me, she said. I still open jars of spices before I use them, stick my nose in and say, glorious, glorious.
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What Causes Distortions In Smell
There are several medical terms used to describe changes in a persons ability to smell properly: parosmia, anosmia, hyposmia, and dysgeusia.
Parosmia is a medical term for distortions in a persons sense of smell. A person with parosmia might be able to detect scents, but the smell of certain thingsor sometimes everything is different and usually unpleasant.
Distortions to the sense of smell can occur after an illness or injury and can include smelling scents that are not there, a weakened sense of smell, or an inability to smell at all. The changes in sense of smell can be temporary or permanent.
Anosmia is the loss of the ability to detect one or more smells. It can be temporary or permanent and has been listed as a major symptom of COVID-19 by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization .
Hyposmia occurs when a persons ability to detect odors is reduced.
Dysgeusia is an altered sense of taste, which sometimes accompanies a change in sense of smell.
Richard L. Doty, PhD, Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Smell and Taste Center, tells Verywell that smell distortions can be caused by COVID-19 and other viral illnesses, along with head injuries.
Why Smells Might Be Weird After Covid
Since the sensory neurons are not affected, the lost sense of smell that can occur with COVID is unlikely to be permanent. The olfactory sensory neurons and other cells can regrowwhich Holbrook says means that, unlike vision or hearing loss, the sense of smell can be regained.
However, the recovery of the sense of smellwhich does not always happencan have missteps along the way. The nerves grow slowly and have to reconnect to the brain, and those new connections may have a shakedown period during which they do not function well.
Holbrook says that parosmiawhere what you experience as a smell does not match the actual odorcan also happen. For example, a sniff of a rose ends up being experienced as a whiff of skunk. Curiously, the wrong sensation will usually be a bad one rather than a good onea rose might smell like a skunk but not the reverse.
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When Foods Dont Smell Or Taste As They Should Try These Strategies To Get The Nutrition You Need
When food doesnt seem as appealing as it used to, its more important than ever to pay attention to what youre eating, says Whitney Linsenmeyer, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at St. Louis University in Missouri and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Theres a risk of unintended weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration too, because people also get water from the food they eat.
Dr. Linsenmeyer offers these strategies for people living with anosmia:
Covids Toll On Smell And Taste: What Scientists Do And Dont Know
One treatment for survivors of COVID-19 who have lost their sense of smell is ‘smell training’, in which they relearn prescribed scents, such as those of roses and lemons.Credit: Christine E. Kelly
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, it emerged that many people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus were losing their sense of smell even without displaying other symptoms. Researchers also discovered that infected people could lose their sense of taste and their ability to detect chemically triggered sensations such as spiciness, called chemesthesis.
Almost a year later, some still havent recovered these senses, and for a proportion of people who have, odours are now warped: unpleasant scents have taken the place of normally delightful ones. Nature surveys the science behind this potentially long-lasting and debilitating phenomenon.
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How Many People With Covid
The exact percentage varies between studies, but most suggest that smell loss is a common symptom.
One review, published last June, compiled data from 8,438 people with COVID-19, and found that 41% had reported experiencing smell loss. In another study, published in August, a team led by researcher Shima T. Moein at the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences in Tehran, Iran, administered a smell-identification test to 100 people with COVID-19 in which the patients sniffed odours and identified them on a multiple-choice basis. Ninety-six per cent of the participants had some olfactory dysfunction, and 18% had total smell loss .
Usually, these patients say they have lost their smell suddenly, a clue that the symptom is linked to COVID-19, says Moein. And often, the dysfunction is the only COVID-19 symptom that people register, suggesting that the phenomenon is separate from virus-induced nasal congestion.
Some researchers say that smell loss should be used as a diagnostic test for COVID-19. A study published last October found that self-reported changes in smell or taste were a better marker of the spread of infection than were other indicators tracked by governments, such as arrivals at hospital accident and emergency departments.
Treatments To Help Regain A Sense Of Smell
One type of treatment that has shown promise is smell retraining therapy. It involves exposing the patient to different strong scents for several minutes at a time for three months.
It is a simple concept, but has shown evidence of significantly improving smell over time. I offer the therapy to all my patients, says Courtney McAvinew, CNP, a rhinology and sinus specialist at UH.
Smell retraining therapy can be effective for many different causes of smell loss, and not just COVID.
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Why Do People With Covid
Although the mechanisms are not fully understood, there is an emerging consensus that smell loss occurs when the coronavirus infects cells that support neurons in the nose.
When researchers first identified smell loss as a symptom of COVID-19, they were worried that the virus was infecting the odour-sensing neurons in the nose that send signals to the olfactory bulb in the brain and that the virus could therefore access the brain. However, post-mortem studies of people who had had COVID-19 have shown that the virus rarely reaches the brain.
A team led by Sandeep Robert Datta, a neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, has instead found that cells that support sensory neurons in the nose known as sustentacular cells are probably what the virus is infecting.
Datta and his colleagues zeroed in on sustentacular cells because SARS-CoV-2 attacks by targeting a receptor called ACE2 on the surfaces of cells, and sustentacular cells have many such receptors. Olfactory sensory neurons do not. This suggests that the coronavirus infects the support cells, leaving the neurons vulnerable and deprived of nutrients.
Patients Are Devising Their Own Home Cures To Revive Their Sense Of Smell And Taste
Ever since COVID-19 led to his own long-haul battle with smell and taste loss, Todd Kennedy has seen surprising results with a trick he made up himself: I went to a Starbucks and got an iced chai latte with hazelnut, which is my favorite drink there, and I took a sip of that and put my mask back on. I realized that when Im breathing into my mask after taking a sip, I felt like I could taste it.
Meanwhile, all kinds of fad treatments have popped up on the internet. One is the burnt orange hack, which suggests roasting an orange over a flame until its charred on the outside, then cutting it open, mixing the fruit with brown sugar, and eating it. Raves about the trick abound on TikTok, but does it actually work?
We dont have research to say this is an effective strategy, says Linsenmeyer, but she adds that if someone feels a certain food is helping bring back taste or smell certain Sichuan dishes, for example, made a difference for one New York Times restaurant critic its worth a shot. If it works for people to eat a curry, say, and they can taste those flavors, it cant hurt to try.
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Smell Training: Get Your Sense Of Smell Back After Covid
A common symptom of the COVID-19 illness is the loss of smell and taste. All of a sudden, you cant smell your favorite candle or taste your favorite food. Loss of smell has been linked to other viral illnesses, but never has it been like the COVID-19 pandemic. Are you looking for ways to get your sense of smell back faster? Weve got a few things for you to try out.
Regaining Your Sense Of Smell After Covid
As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, there are increasing numbers of people who report prolonged loss of smell after contracting the virus.
One study found that as many as 77 percent of those who had COVID-19 were estimated to have some loss of smell.
Other viral illnesses have been known to cause a loss of smell, but it was uncommon before the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. Alexander Ramirez, medical director for the Otolaryngology Clinical Program for Intermountain Healthcare, The SARS-CV-2 virus binds the ACE receptors which we see in abundance in the olfactory area of the nasal cavity, so it is not surprising that we are seeing it more frequently with COVID-19.
In most patients the loss of smell is temporary, but for others it can be prolonged, taking months or even years to fully recover. In fact, Dr. Ramirez says it is a common problem he sees in Long COVID patients.
That lack of smell also causes dysgeusia, which is a disruption with their ability to taste which is largely regulated by smell, said Dr. Ramirez. As a result, patients will often lose their desire to eat, drop significant amounts of weight, and lose the joy of smells in life. In addition, there is the risk of fires and not smelly things that might be burning.
What is smell training?Smell training is often called physical therapy for your nose and involves sniffing the same strong and very distinctive four scents every day for 20 seconds on each scent.
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How Do I Regain My Loss Of Taste And Smell After Covid
How do I regain my loss of taste and smell after Covid? – NHS guidance.
A new study will consider whether vitamin A can help those who have lost their sense of smell after having Covid-19.
The 12-week Apollo trial will treat people who have experienced smell loss or an altered sense of smell as a result of viral infections with nasal drops containing the vitamin, the University of East Anglia said in a statement.
The university said research from Germany had shown the potential benefit of the vitamin, and its team will explore how this treatment works to help repair tissues in the nose damaged by viruses.
A loss of taste and smell are among the most common symptoms associated with Covid-19.
A loss of the senses is also associated with Long Covid, also known as post-Covid syndrome, is used to describe the effects of the virus that continue for weeks or months beyond the initial illness.
Recovery from the illness, responsible for the global pandemic, can often take weeks or even months with about one in 10 cases leaving taste and smell problems after coronavirus infection.
A loss of smell will affect how people can detect flavours, when we eat, the flavour of food is the combined experience of smell and taste.
It is worth noting that the loss of smell which will also affect your taste is not usually serious and should get better after a few weeks or months.
Cleaning the inside of your nose
A Different Line Of Attack
Covid-19 isn’t the first illness to lead to a loss of taste or smell. A nasty cold, the flu, even bad allergies can cause nasal congestion that renders those senses useless. But in those cases, using a decongestant can help, even if only temporarily.
Not so with Covid-19, experts say. Instead, the coronavirus dulls those senses through a different line of attack.
“This is an inflammatory process of the nerve itself or of the cells,” said Dr. Nina Shapiro, a pediatric head and neck surgeon at UCLA School of Medicine.
A person’s sense of smell works like this: An odor molecule enters the nose and lands on a special type of tissue called the olfactory epithelium. This tissue is filled with neurons, which pick up the odor molecule and transport it through the olfactory bulb and into the brain, where it’s interpreted as, say, the scent of roses.
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Lost Smell After Covid
- 18 May 2021, 10:18 IST
The second wave of the deadly coronavirus hit us recently and the situation has been getting worse each day. Cases have been on a rise all across the country.
While many infected by the virus couldn’t make it, others are recovering and getting back to normalcy.
Loss of smell is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. It is usually followed by a loss of taste. A lot of patients who recovered from COVID-19 complain that they are unable to get back their sense of smell.
The condition is also known as anosmia and people are suffering from it because COVID-19 affects the nervous system which leads to loss of smell. While some people are able to regain it in a few days or weeks after recovering from the coronavirus, for others it is going on for much longer.
Even after triggering their sense of smell many times, people have been unable to regain their smell. So we asked a health expert, Dr. Mukesh Singh Pachahara, Senior Resident , Delhi.
What Is Smell Training
Smell training is a therapy that has been used by experts in smell disorders for some time. It has the benefit of having no harmful effects on those who use it. It is also something that doesnt need a prescription, is cheap and can easily be done at home.
Several studies performed over the last decade suggest that repeated short-term exposure to smells may help people who have lost their sense of smell. In particular, those who have lost their sense of smell as the result of viruses, such as the common cold, appear to benefit. But we still dont know if this works for COVID smell loss specifically, although there is no reason to suspect the benefits will be any different.
The traditional format for smell training has been to use the four smells of clove, rose, lemon and eucalyptus. However, there are different items from the home that provide a range of smells so people can select smells that they know they found to be pleasant or have a connection with.
Lemon and orange rind, nutmeg, clove, mint, eucalyptus, ground coffee, coconut and vanilla are all common items that can be used. A good guide to the technique can be found on the charity website Fifth Sense.
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