The Downsides Of Loss Of Smell
Loss of smell comes with several downsides that go beyond simply not being able to inhale a sweet whiff of cookies.
First are safety issues. Theres a pragmatic safety consideration, Dr. Sindwani says. Without the ability to smell, you lose the ability to detect dangerous smells like gas or fire and smoke. You also run the risk, he notes, of not smelling the rot in spoiled food and drinks that can lead to unpleasant and potentially dangerous consumption.
As a result, he adds, youll want to be more vigilant about things like smoke detectors in your home and making sure food is still fresh.
But thats not the only downside. A much broader impact is the human and emotional effect a loss of smell has, says Dr. Sindwani. Smell and taste go hand in hand, and theres this complex interaction between experience, emotion, memory, smell and taste.
As a result of a disruption in that connection between emotional memory, experience and smell, some patients can develop anxiety and even depression.
Food doesnt taste good anymore, wine doesnt carry the same flavor and it isnt pleasurable to drink anymore, says Dr. Sindwani. People then just dont get the same enjoyment out of that dining experience, and eating and drinking become about mere sustenance not about enjoyment and enhancing ones life
Congenital vs acquired
There are a host of other causes of poor smell, he says, including:
- Nasal polyps.
- Nasal or brain tumors.
On Getting Covid And Losing My Sense Of Taste And Smell
After testing positive for COVID last week, I entirely lost my sense of smell and my sense of taste. The symptoms which prompted me to get tested were too mild to even mention, but when I tasted my coffee;the following morning and found it as odorless and tasteless as tap water, my first thought was, Please, God, not that, although I suspect my guardian angels first thought was, Oh, hes needed something like this for quite a while. As usual, my guardian angel was right.
For those who havent experienced the complete loss;of taste and smell which comes from COVID, let me first assure you thats it not like a bad cold, which is what I had imagined ever since first learning of the virus. I have had very bad colds before and experienced the diminished sense of smell and taste which accompany severe congestion. Under such circumstances, the power of smell and taste can be somewhat conjured back with decongestants or by eating very spicy foods that clear the sinuses. With COVID, on the other hand, taste and smell are entirely and completely gone. If someone blindfolded me and led me into a county fair outhouse, I might have guessed I was in a French bakery.
I should add that while I had COVID, I wasnt really sick. I wasnt congested. I was not bound in bed or aching. To see me and poke me in the ribs, you wouldnt think there was a thing wrong with me. ;;
If I can remember that it will be healing enough. ;;
Viral Infections Like The Flu Colds And Covid
If youve had a cold, you may be all too familiar with a stuffy nose that makes it hard to smell. In fact, both the common cold and influenza can cause temporary anosmia. Scientists have also identified a loss of taste and smell among the symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Viruses can disrupt the nerves related to smell, and they can target the tissues in the nose, says Elisabeth D. Ference, MD, an otolaryngologist at Keck Medicine of USC and assistant professor of clinical otolaryngology head and neck surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. The viruses can cause inflammation, either to the nerve or to the lining of the nose, that impacts the normal function of our sense of smell.
When smell is lost, often taste is, too. Approximately 80% of the flavors we taste come from our sense of smell, so if our nerves related to smell are not working, then we also have an impairment in our sense of taste, Ference explains. Taste that is sensed on the tongue salty, sweet, sour and bitter will still be present. However, the subtlety of food, such as oregano on pizza, will be lost.
Don’t Miss: How Long Cvs Covid Test Results
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.
Should I See A Specialist For My Smell Loss
Anytime you experience a loss of smell, whether its gradual or immediate, its a good idea to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to ensure you get proper treatment.;
In progressive cases, Tajudeen says its important to see a specialist as early as possible. The more your smell continues to decline over time, the more challenging it can be to treat.;
Tajudeen and the team at the Rush Smell Loss Program have a variety of treatments for those with progressive smell loss including a therapy to help people retrain their smelling nerves.;
For COVID-19 patients, Tajudeen suggests seeing a specialist if your smell loss symptoms persist for longer than a month.;
Most COVID-19 patients who have smell loss do recover their sense of smell within about four weeks, says Tajudeen. During a recent study, we looked at about 1,000 COVID-19 patients. Based off their own symptom reporting, about 78% of those with total smell loss had completely recovered their smell at around the four-week mark.
While almost 20% of the patients Tajudeen and his team studied did not recover their smell after four weeks, he suggests this could be from a variety of factors that a specialist might be able to identify and address.;
If youre still having issues after a month, you should definitely get evaluated, he says. Weve seen people develop things such as sinus infections after COVID-19, which could be prolonging smell recovery.
Also Check: How Long Cvs Covid Test Results
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.
Coronavirus And The Heart
The findings also offer intriguing clues into COVID-19-associated neurological issues. The observations are consistent with hypotheses that SARS-CoV-2 does not directly infect neurons but may instead interfere with brain function by affecting vascular cells in the nervous system, the authors said. This requires further investigation to verify, they added.
The study results now help accelerate efforts to better understand smell loss in patients with COVID-19, which could in turn lead to treatments for anosmia and the development of improved smell-based diagnostics for the disease.
Anosmia seems like a curious phenomenon, but it can be devastating for the small fraction of people in whom its persistent, Datta said. It can have serious psychological consequences and could be a major public health problem if we have a growing population with permanent loss of smell.
The team also hope the data can help pave inroads for questions on disease progression such as whether the nose acts as a reservoir for SARS-CoV-2. Such efforts will require studies in facilities that allow experiments with live coronavirus and analyses of human autopsy data, the authors said, which are still difficult to come by. However, the collaborative spirit of pandemic-era scientific research calls for optimism.
Are You At A Higher Risk Of Covid
While having COPD may not increase your risk of developing an infection with the new coronavirus, the lung damage caused by COPD may increase your chance of developing more severe COVID-19 symptoms.
COPD can cause the airways in your lungs to become chronically inflamed. This can obstruct the airways, lead to poor airflow, and even destroy the portion of your lungs involved in gas exchange.
Also, let your doctor know if youve had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, or has symptoms.
Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. Even if this person didnt have any symptoms, they could have still infected you for several days before they showed symptoms or tested positive.
Your doctor will assess your symptoms, advise you on what measures to take, and arrange for necessary interventions. Theyll also determine if and when you need to get tested for the disease.
If you do not have a primary care doctor, contact your local public health department for care and testing options.
If youve had close contact with a person who has COVID-19, you will need to quarantine yourself for 14 days. This is the average time it takes to develop symptoms.
What Should You Do If You Lose Your Sense Of Smell
If your loss of smell isnt attached to an obvious illness a cold, sinus congestion, or even COVID-19 then you should definitely check with your health care provider, Dr. Sindwani notes.
This situation, like so many others, is further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, though. If you have other COVID-19 symptoms, you should follow COVID-19 guidelines and get tested.
But, he adds, if its the only symptom you have, make that appointment and be sure to make follow-ups to track the progress. If its COVID-19-related or related to another viral infection, it generally resolves itself within a few weeks. Its after its been going on for longer than that we get more concerned, he says.
Can it be treated?
If you lose your sense of smell, chances are youre going to want it back. And that leads to the question of treatment. We treat what we know at first, says Dr. Sindwani. If its a polyp or a tumor, those have their own specific treatments. The loss of smell is actually a symptom of the problem.
Nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis are the most common problems, he says, noting there are treatment options, including surgery, for those issues. Whether its medication or surgery, there are options.
With post-viral issues as well as with other occurrences caused by aging, Parkinsons, trauma and, occasionally, congenital cases Dr. Sindwani says that steroids, either by mouth or nasal steroids, can also work.
Recommended Reading: Did Hank Aaron Get Covid Vaccine
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?;
Inclusion And Exclusion Criteria
The present review included human studies that assessed the symptoms of loss of smell and/or taste in patients diagnosed with COVID-19, regardless of laboratory confirmation and other symptoms related to the disease. Studies were excluded if they did not explain in detail the outcomes investigated in the present review or if they did not provide detailed explanation of their methodology. Case-reports, letters to the editor, literature reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and in vitro and animal studies were also excluded. There were no restrictions regarding language or year of publication.
Don’t Miss: Is It Safe To Get A Massage During Covid
How Quickly Do The Impaired Senses Return
For most people, smell, taste and chemesthesis recover within weeks. In a study published last July, 72% of people with COVID-19 who had olfactory dysfunction reported that they recovered their sense of smell after a month, as did 84% of people with taste dysfunction. Claire Hopkins, an ear, nose and throat consultant at Guys and St Thomas Hospital in London, and her colleagues similarly observed a speedy return of the senses: they followed 202 patients for a month, and found that 49% reported complete recovery over that time, and a further 41% reported an improvement.
But, for others, the symptoms are more serious. Some people whose senses do not return right away improve slowly over a long period and this can have consequences, says Hopkins. As a person regains their sense of smell, odours often register as unpleasant and different from how they remembered them, a phenomenon called parosmia. Everything smells rancid to these people, says Hopkins, and the effect can last for months. This might be because the olfactory sensory neurons are rewiring as they recover, she says.
Other patients remain fully anosmic for months, and it isnt clear why. Hopkins suggests that, in these cases, the coronavirus infection might have killed the olfactory sensory neurons.
Is Losing Your Sense Of Smell And Taste The First Sign Of Covid
Anosmia or smell blindness, loss of the ability to smell, one of the possible symptoms of Covid-19.
According to a new study, two-thirds of people admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 reported losing their sense of smell and taste and almost a quarter of them said it was their first symptom.
The small study included 93 patients from an Italian hospital who were admitted to a non-intensive Covid-19 unit in March 2020.
The participants either tested positive for the virus with a swab test, or they showed signs of lung problems with a chest X-ray or scan.
When interviewed about their symptoms 63% said they lost their sense of smell and taste. For 13 of the 58 who reported losing their sense of smell and taste, the loss of smell and taste was their first symptom. The researchers also noted that the average duration of the loss of smell and taste was between 25 to 30 days.
“Loss of smell and taste are common in people who have Covid-19 infections, and our study found that these symptoms often occur before other symptoms, like fever or shortness of breath,” said study author Francesco Bax, M.D., of Santa Maria della Misericordia University Hospital in Udine, Italy.
Also Check: Hank Aaron Dies After Covid Vaccine
Taste And Smell Changes
You may experience loss of smell following your COVID infection. We do not have long-term data for COVID patients about recovery of smell. We know from studies of loss of smell caused by other viruses that sense of smell can return quickly within a couple of weeks whilst others can take many months to recover. Recovery can sometimes be slow. From what we know so far, about 1 in 10 cases of smell and taste problems persist after COVID infection; we know from other viruses that about 1 in 3 people will see recovery of their sense of smell over 3 years.
Loss of smell will affect how well you can detect flavours. When we eat, the flavour of food is the combined experience of smell and taste together. We have five basic tastes sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savoury which are not normally affected when we lose our sense of smell because they are detected with the tongue. However, there is evidence that in COVID true taste can be affected as well as smell.