Loss of smell and taste can be a sign of a person infected with coronavirus even if they do not have a cough, fever or other typical symptoms.
One morning, Grace Lawlor, 25, brushed her teeth and realized she did not feel the taste of toothpaste. Then she took a shower and realized she couldn’t smell the shampoo either. This was strange, and apart from that, she was still healthy.
Her roommate laughed and didn’t believe it when she heard Lawlor’s story so she decided to prove it by eating chili sauce.
Really bizarre feeling
It was as if I was drinking milk, ”she said. “I can chew the whole onion like an apple. It was really weird. ”
When searching Google, she read that the sudden loss of taste and smell may be a symptom of Covid-19. She went to see the doctor but was not tested because at that time, the clinic only tested for people doing essential work.
The doctor said that she just assumed she was positive for Covid-19 and went home to isolate herself. A few days later, one of Lawlor’s roommates showed similar symptoms.
Eating with them now is just bringing food to their mouth and swallowing. Even that is not eating, because eating is a pleasure, and they are just fueling like machines.
“Even when I crave something and it’s right in front of me, it’s not satisfying because we can’t taste anything.”
Jenny Dwork, an e-commerce supervisor for a shoe company in New York, had a similar situation. She went to her mother’s house to work remotely during times of social separation. Dwork felt a little tired and had a slight headache on March 24, but it was okay. Until she drank a smoothie, she realized she didn’t taste anything except the cold. Knowing that it could be a symptom of Covid-19, she went to a testing station but was rejected because there were no other symptoms.
Dwork also tried some other strong-tasting foods, such as sriracha chutney, and then vodka. She felt the alcohol hot in her throat but could not taste it, and the next day she was drunk as usual.
For a terrible and unpredictable epidemic, the most bizarre symptoms occur quite commonly. A study on Covid-19 patients in Europe showed that 85.6% and 88% of patients had the corresponding “taste and smell dysfunction”, respectively. In a study in Iran, 76% of Covid-19 patients who lost their sense of smell reported a sudden onset of the phenomenon, as if the scent had been turned off like a light bulb.
Normally, for loss of smell, obstruction is the most common cause, but some viruses can interfere with our olfactory processing. With Covid-19, researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how it happens. Some people think that viruses can attack the nervous system through the olfactory bulb (nerves in the nose that help us smell). It also targets the olfactory epithelium (the skin surrounding nerve cells), where there are cells similar to those in the lungs that the virus attacks.
Because neurons can regenerate themselves, “in about 7 days, most people begin to recover,” said James Denneny, vice president and CEO of the Academy of Otolaryngology Surgery – throat of america, said. Researchers have mentioned the possibility of permanent tactile loss, but this is rare.
However, in the short term, the loss of sense of smell and taste is more urgent because this can be a sign of an infected person even if they do not cough, fever or other typical symptoms. Joe Cickyham said he was positive for Covid-19 only with symptoms associated with taste sensation.
Rudy Gober, athlete of Utah Jazz, the first person in the NBA to be positive for the virus, said he also lost touch. Many other famous people, including former star of reality TV show “Bachelor” Colton Underwood, actor of the “Missing” series Daniel Dae Kim and Broadway star Aaron Tveit have had similar symptoms. A quarter of the people who reported this symptom said it was the only sign of the disease they had.
“I couldn’t smell anything for five days straight.”, Vallery Lomas, a famous 34-year-old baker, feared that she would never regain her sense of smell and taste.
This threatened Lomas’ career because she was positive for Covid-19 while writing a cookbook. The smell and taste are closely related, and culinary experts rely on sensory to adjust recipes. Lomas had to ask the publisher to extend the manuscript submission, and instead of immersing herself in the sweet, buttery scent of freshly baked bread, she had to spend a week constantly smelling a bottle of smelling cough syrup. Very uncomfortable, hoping the smell will return.
And finally it came back, but it did not recover completely. “I started to panic this morning,” she said, experimenting with a recipe and noticing her sensory insensitivity. “Although I can taste those flavors, I still can’t really smell and taste to know for sure if it’s too sweet? Do you need more cinnamon? Does this taste overwhelm other flavors? Does the taste balance? I could not identify it “.
Can it be restored?
Because smells and tastes are closely related, some people who think they have lost both senses may actually lose their sense of smell. Jo Shapiro, associate professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School, said.
“The loss of your sense of smell makes you lose your sense of taste. (There is a difference: the basic taste is just sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami; but the taste is more accurate. Try covering your nose and trying a strawberry, then switch to try one. Cherry flavored gum: You will find that both have a sweet taste, but cannot distinguish their flavors).
Shapiro learned this from personal experience. She is believed to have contracted Covid-19 and has also been denied testing because of ineligibility. She is full of common symptoms (fever, chills, fatigue, cough) and loss of smell. Shapiro realized this when, during breakfast, she could only feel the salty taste of the dish.
Many other patients may also lose their taste buds completely, such as Lawlor eating onions and not having any taste. Thomas Finger, a professor of cell and structural biology specializing in taste research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine Anschutz, based on information he gathered from around the world, said: “The difference in the loss of taste associated with Covid-19 is that it tends to influence the perception of sweetness.”
That means that for some, it will be the first to go away, but it is still not possible to explain why the taste perception is not affected the same.
Research on this phenomenon is ongoing – not just in the medical community, but even in households with people who may have contracted Covid-19. Cases without hospitalization conducted their own experiments.
Mandy Hardy, 42, in Brooklyn, lost both senses last week. She tried putting honey and cinnamon in the tea and didn’t feel anything. She had to constantly inhale the mint from her nasal inhaler in hopes that her sense of smell would return. (Currently her sense of smell has recovered about 50%.)
Sue Kinnamon, a professor of ear, nose and throat at the University of Colorado-Anschutz, said that affected people can “train their sense of smell” by regular contact with strong scents like mustard, though they have not been developed yet. Specific evidence of the effectiveness of this measure in the case of loss of sense of smell caused by Covid-19.
Kevin Knocke, 33, loses his sense of smell and the virus’s taste buds, witty about this advantage: “I cleaned and changed the ‘delicious’ baby diapers. I just stood a few inches away from it and didn’t smell anything. ”
Thankfully, people who lose their sense of smell or taste won’t suffer for the rest of their lives. AAO-HNS found that the average time patients experienced those symptoms was seven days, with 85% of patients regaining sensation within 10 days.
Respondents said that when the first flavors returned, they enjoyed a feast of flavors that had long been lost.
“I just thought I would really appreciate everything I eat and don’t just put it in my mouth and swallow,” Dwork, who began to regain his senses with a cup of morning coffee. Hardy yearns to eat pizza. Knocke has postponed his birthday party until he can feel the taste again.
As for Lomas, she gradually perfected her cookbook, temporarily titled “Life is What You Bake It,” which added some talk about surviving a pandemic.