The loss of taste and smell covid-triggered anomaly, also known as anosmia, is one of the most common symptoms of this respiratory disease that has threatened to grind the world to a halt. It can be rather unsettling, for most people, to suddenly discover that you have lost your ability to distinguish between fetid and sweet aromas.
What is even sadder and more heartbreaking, is that such loss of taste and smell coronavirus associated symptoms can take ages to recover if not approached in the right way. This leaves the sufferers with no option but to endure tasteless food and bland drinks. They will also no longer relish the restorative fragrance of a freshly picked bouquet of roses on a warm spring Saturday or the angelic scent of their babies after a warm bath. These are simple pleasures that we normally take for granted until they are taken away by this monster that has ravaged millions of people around the world.
Truth be told, it can be hard to cope with coronavirus loss of smell and taste especially if you are an avid foodie who enjoys sampling different palates and notes. And for some, the ageusia and anosmia is so upsetting that it evokes a chronic loss of appetite which further impedes their recovery from the virus. As expected, regaining your palate's ability after suffering a severe loss of taste covid 19-induced spell is important for both your recovery and overall well-being. While it is not easy or straightforward as it may appear at first, we have compiled a collection of dietary and clinical regimens that you can adopt to battle this loss of smell covid-related inconvenience.
Why Does Covid Cause Loss of Taste?
Anosmia and ageusia after and during a respiratory virus attack is not exactly new. Ordinarily, loss of smell after a viral attack is often accompanied by nasal problems or a runny nose. This way, it becomes easy for the patient to rationalise the fact that they are unable to detect odours as accurately as they did. But this is rarely the case with COVID. The taste and smell loss start even before the manifestation of other respiratory symptoms. And it's usually anything short of a bizarre experience.
You see, unlike the average respiratory virus, COVID is a unique pathogen with the ability to access the nervous system in record time. In short, the virus is able to travel quickly up the nose before attaching itself to the adjacent olfactory nerve which sits at the end of the nasal canal. This is the same nerve that is typically responsible for conveying important sensory impulses related to odours that are picked by the nose to the brain for interpretation and processing. Infection and later impairment of these sensory-neuron-supporting cells is what eventually precipitates to loss of the ability to pick up different odours.
Since it is not easy to detect loss of the sense of smell, most COVID sufferers will first notice that there is something wrong with their palate before later realizing that their scent-detecting abilities are gone too. And it's easy to see why. Typically, many of us can easily and outrightly identify tastes such as salty, sweet, sour or bitter. However, if you can't smell you can't really tell the difference between a grape or a cherry until someone or something points it out. In other words, it is the loss of smell that later gravitates to ageusia.
Is Loss of Taste a Symptom of Covid?
Just like any other respiratory infection, the symptoms of COVID-19 and the destruction that it leaves in its wake can vary greatly from one person to another. In addition to a persistent dry cough and difficulty in breathing, a coronavirus infection is often accompanied by other relatable symptoms such as;
- Acute headache
- Sore throat
- Muscle pains and aches
So, is loss of smell a sign of coronavirus? Yes, it is. The WHO estimates that anosmia happens to close to 60 to 70% of COVID-19 infections.
Although the explanation of how exactly this happens is still some kind of a mystery, scientists believe that the virus invades and ravages the olfactory nerve endings that are linked to your ability to recognize different tastes and odours. It is thought that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 infection will bind to the ACE2 protein that coats the surface of the potential nerve cells thereby inhibiting their correct function.
Researchers who reviewed results obtained from over 20 studies later unearthed the observation that anosmia is often always accompanied by a worsening loss of taste that could take months to regain. They also found out the loss of smell is likely to occur more in women than in men after and during a severe COVID-19 infection.
While this answers the question of whether or not 'is loss of smell a symptom of coronavirus?' it does not necessarily mean that it is the ONLY cause of anosmia. In addition to COVID-19, there are many other reasons that could result in loss of your odour-detection ability. This includes;
- Long term smoking
- Nasal polyps
- Sinus infections and other upper respiratory tract diseases
- Traumatic head injury
- Neurological conditions e.g, Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Alzheimer's
- Hormonal changes such as hypothyroidism or Cushing's syndrome
- Surgeries impacting the nose, mouth, throat etc such as removal of wisdom teeth and sinus surgery
- Tumors around or in the head and neck
- Exposure to some types of solvents and chemicals.
When Does Loss of Taste Occur with Covid?
As intimated in other parts of this article, a loss of smell and taste is one of the more common early symptoms of a possible coronavirus infection. It, therefore, goes without saying that anyone who notices these changes in their senses should immediately self-isolate and get a rapid COVID-19 test.
Speaking of which, the changes may be
- No sense of taste or smell completely
- Smell and taste ability being less sensitive than usual
- Parosmia - food starts tasting strange or unusual
- Everything has a foul or strange-smelling odor
Now, if you are battling with the dilemma, is loss of taste gradual with covid, then you will be relieved to know that coronavirus-induced anosmia is mostly sudden and unexplained. In fact, the WHO has already listed severe and unanticipated loss of smell and taste in the absence of a chronic nasal condition or allergy as a possible early warning of COVID-19. And this also includes any sort of abrupt and unexplained dysfunction in smell and taste, however mild it may seem. Self isolation and getting tested immediately for COVID is, therefore, advised.
Still on this, the onset of the loss of taste and smell mostly happens within 4 to 5 days after possible exposure to the pathogen. This could precede or even accompany other common signs of coronavirus infection such as a dry cough and a petulant sore throat.
Now, sometimes it can be hard to really tell whether or not you have indeed lost your sense of smell, this is why it is advisable to know how to conduct a proper loss of smell test at home just to rule out any other masked symptoms. You can do this by testing your accuracy in picking out two items with strong and distinctive aromas. A good example, for instance, is testing whether you can differentiate coffee granules from an orange peel or onion bulb with your eyes closed.
Doctors, on the other hand, will often conduct a 'sip, spit then rinse' test to diagnose and confirm loss of taste. Still, as explained before, there are plenty of possibilities where the sudden loss of taste and smell is not covid-induced.
How Long Does Loss of Taste Last with Covid?
There is some good news for those who may be agonizing over, how long do you lose your taste and smell with coronavirus.
Most of the time, unless the COVID-19 attack dealt a huge blow on the body's overall neural system, the loss of taste and smell is usually temporary. If anything, researchers found out that almost 80% of post-COVID patients will regain their senses after 2 months of making a full recovery from their initial symptoms. Another multicenter study confirmed that close to 95% of them will have recovered their ability to pick out odours after 6 months of recovery. It is very rare for thecoronavirus smell loss duration to exceed one year unless you had to undergo an extensive nasal surgery during treatment/recovery.
If it helps, you would be relieved to know that the loss of taste and smell is also associated with milder coronavirus symptoms compared to patients who don't suffer from anosmia from the onset. Worst case scenario, you may require long-term monitoring, treatment and a recovery therapy to regain your sense of smell/taste but this is rarely the case rather than the norm.
All in all, the coronavirus loss of smell length will vary highly from one person to another and there's no definite way to predict the exact date when you will recover yours. Some may trigger the senses back after just 3 days of scent training while others may take several weeks or months.
Loss of Taste After Covid
As much as the partial loss of taste covid-triggered symptoms seems to be temporary, there's a real possibility that your anosmia could be long-term or even permanent. Doctors are observing that a few COVID-19 patients are left to deal with permanent olfactory dysfunction even after recovering from all other potential life-threatening symptoms. And this has a lot of doctors worried since covid permanent loss of taste is consistent with extensive nerve damage that could even point to potential brain impairment.
While both anosmia and ageusia can take a toll on the quality of your life, it is the danger of not being able to recognize potential hazards, such as smell from your burning kitchen, that presents the real problem here. The options are also 'not that great' if the loss of sense of taste or smell proves to be stubborn and lingering. You may have to undergo extensive and long-term 'smell training' therapy to retrain your olfactory nerve centers on how to pick up certain scents. It's almost similar to how a stroke or accident victim has to relearn walking again after waking up from a devastating coma.
How to get Taste and Smell Back
If you are struggling with how to regain sense of smell and taste after recovering from COVID-19, then this next part will be extremely helpful. Here's a quick premise on how to get smell and taste back as quickly as possible
i. Scent Training
A good way of triggering your sense of smell and taste is exposing your olfactory nerves to different sub-groups and types of odours. Excellent scents that work for this include lemon, eucalyptus, rose and clove. The four cover the main types of different smells and exposing your nerve centers for at least 10 seconds to them might be helpful in re-training the brain to be able pick up scents again. Exposure here means taking a couple of slow, deliberate and deep breaths when mentally trying to visualize or imagine what you are trying to smell or pick up.
Specialists recommend that scent training should be done at least twice a day until you are fully confident that the acuity of your senses has gone back to pre-COVID levels.
ii. Vitamins and Supplements
You can take a number of supplements and vitamins to help fast-track your loss of taste and smell covid recovery. Upping your ability to recognize different odors through supplementation with Vitamins A, B, C K2+D3, Chlorophyll (all which you can get from Wellabs) has proven to be very helpful for many coronavirus patients in recovery. Essentially, you are trying to recover your smelling abilities by honing and making it sharper than before with the hope that your new scent IQ will make up the dulled senses left behind by the virus.
Here’s a quick premise to that.
- Vitamin A: Helps to improve the ability of the olfactory endings to pick up new scents.
- Vitamin C: Fights parosmia (also known as taste and smell distortion) which is quite common in the aftermath of a Covid-19 infection.
- Vitamin K2+D3: A legendary immune booster that hastens recovery from the virus.
- Chlorophyll: Supports the proper functioning of your taste buds which could have taken a hit after the coronavirus attack.
Also, don't forget that a vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause olfactory dysfunction and lead to complete or partial loss of smell. And since this vitamin is mostly only found in animal-sourced foods such as fish, eggs, milk and chicken, vegans and strict vegetarians may need the assistance of external supplementation to regain their sense of smell and taste after covid.
Losing the ability to smell or taste different things can be alarming, disconcerting and sometimes even dangerous. Fortunately, however, most people will recover their olfactory function within a matter of days, weeks or months. During this time, however, it is important to keep exposing your nose to as many different scents as possible while trying to rekindle any memories that you associate with it. At the end of the day, memory and smell share the same endings in the brain's cortex and this is why certain smells are able to evoke pretty strong emotions or memories.