One of the earliest symptoms of Covid-19 is the loss of smell. Many people infected with the SARS-COV-2 virus lost their sense of smell before displaying other symptoms. Later on, they also lost their sense of taste and could not detect chemically triggered sensations such as spiciness.
While most patients regained their sense of taste and smell shortly after recovering from the virus, the damage lingered on for some. This blog post looks at why COVID causes a loss of taste and smell and how you can treat it.
Why does Covid affect taste and smell?
Covid-19 is a relatively new disease, and much is still a mystery, but researchers may have discovered that the virus attacks support cells at the back of the nose known as olfactory sensory neurons. These neurons have tiny hair-like projections that extend into the mucus-covered nasal lining, which detect and transmit odorant information to the central nervous system. When infected, these neurons stop sending signals to the brain, causing the loss of smell. Because smell is necessary to taste flavour, loss of taste often follows suit. However, more research is needed to determine whether this is the exact cause.
The infection is temporary, and most patients regain their sense of smell and taste after recovering from the virus, but in some cases, the damage may be irreversible. At first permanent damage to these neurons was suspected to be caused by a brain infection, but post-mortem studies of Covid patients showed that the virus rarely made it to the brain.
What causes permanent damage to the olfactory sensory neurons? A team of neurobiologists found out that the virus also infects support sensory neurons in the nose, known as sustentacular cells. As a result, the olfactory sensory neurons are deprived of nutrients and left vulnerable to damage.
How long do you lose taste and smell with Covid?
There isn’t a specific time frame for how long these symptoms last. However, according to a report by the Journal of Internal Medicine, 95 percent of Covid-19 patients fully regained their sense of smell and taste within six months.
How to regain sense of smell after Covid
If you haven’t recovered your sense of smell and taste, here are a few things you can do to help:
- Try bland foods such as boiled rice, pasta, and potatoes
- Eat enough proteins
- Use stronger spices
- Take small mouthfuls and chew slowly
- Eat cool or room temperature foods
If none of these tricks work, speak to your doctor or an ENT specialist for professional help.
How can Mr Olarinde help?
If your loss of smell is accompanied by a blocked nose, you may be suffering from nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are swellings in the lining of the nose usually caused by an infection or an allergy. They can be shrunk using nasal sprays, nasal drops, and steroid tablets. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend surgery.
If your loss of smell and taste is affecting your day-to-day life, book an appointment today and let us help you.