Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Studies of loss of smell caused by other viruses indicate that sense of smell can return rapidly after a few weeks, whilst others can take months to recover. However, if you find that months after testing negative for COVID, your senses of both smell and taste are still not fully recovered, you are not alone.
On-going global data collection has found that many people still experience loss of the sense of smell up to 5 months later after the coronavirus virus has been cleared from the body. For many people recovery from anosmia — a medical term for the loss of smell — is slow.
Although it isn’t a debilitating or life-threatening side effect, it can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life.
The sense of taste and smell are intertwined. Most people associate taste with the tongue and mouth. However, smell plays a significant role in taste. You will lose your sense of taste if you lose your sense of smell. They are truly inseparable. The ability to detect flavors would be impacted if you lose your sense of smell (both positive and bad odors).
COVID-19, according to experts, can cause inflammation and damage to key nerves. It can also affect the senses-processing portion of the brain.
What does this mean for me?
Following your COVID illness, you might note that your favorite foods taste and smell different. Food can be bland, salty, sweet, or metallic in flavor. These changes are typically temporary, but they can affect your health causing poor appetite and undesired weight loss.
There is currently no treatment available for COVID-19-related loss of smell and taste. But there are a few tips that you may follow post-COVID-19 if your sense of taste and smell has still taken a setback due to the deadly virus.
How can I improve the taste of food?
- It is important to choose healthy foods that appeal to you in order to eat, but you can continue to try new foods as your tastes shift.
- Brush your teeth morning and evening and rinse your mouth with water if it feels dry or sore to keep your mouth clean and safe. Mouthwashes containing alcohol should be avoided.
- Experiment with various flavors, textures, and temperatures of food to see which ones you prefer. If you’re still nauseated or have an upset stomach, bland flavors like regular chicken, fish, tofu, and rice might be easier to eat.
- You may try smelling products that are readily available around the house and gradually mastering new smells. Start by smelling coffee, perfumes, citrus, or various forms of essential oils, and mastering their identification before moving on to a new fragrance.
- Although getting enough protein is vital for recovery, high protein foods may have a bitter or metallic taste. Experiment with different protein sources to find the one that you enjoy the most.
- Adding strong flavors to food can help alteration of taste. Spices can also enhance the flavor of a dish.
- Sharp/tart flavors in foods and beverages, such as orange, lemon, and lime, can help to balance out overly sweet tastes.
- Salty or bitter taste changes may be improved by choosing low salt varieties and adding sweet flavors to food or drink, such as sweetener, honey, or sugar.
- Adding sweet flavors to food or drink, such as sweetener, honey, or sugar, will help to enhance salty or bitter taste changes.
When it comes to the damages caused by COVID-19, the old adage “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” takes on new meaning. These challenges force us to become more conscious of ourselves and, as a result, more resilient.
Remember, the road to recovery post-Covid may be long, but you don’t have to be concerned. You will regain a sense of smell and taste, according to experts. If you haven’t been able to smell for more than a month, see a doctor.