I Still Can't Smell Anything After COVID: Will I Ever Get It Back?

I Still Can't Smell Anything After COVID: Will I Ever Get It Back?

It’s one of the symptoms that you know by now to watch out for: All of a sudden, you can’t seem to smell anything, and your sense of taste is impaired, as well. Loss of the sense of smell, or anosmia, is a common early indicator of a COVID-19 infection.

In addition to the loss of smell, COVID-19 commonly causes early symptoms including fever, shortness of breath, and coughing. Other conditions besides COVID-19 can also cause you to lose your sense of smell, including a simple cold.

If you experience a loss of smell in addition to other potential COVID-19 symptoms, get tested right away to learn your infection status. The team at GatherWell COVID Testing offers on-site laboratory services from locations in Ham Lake, Otsego, and Edina, Minnesota. We can help determine if you are positive for COVID-19.

For some people, recovery from COVID-19 doesn’t immediately restore lost senses of smell and taste. This impairment can be challenging, affecting diet, daily habits, and more.

We’re still learning more about how COVID-19 impacts your sense of smell. The good news: Within a year after your infection, you’re very likely to regain your sense of smell. Here’s more about what you can expect.

How COVID-19 impacts your senses

The COVID-19 virus attacks your respiratory system. Your mouth and nose are both a part of your upper respiratory system.

COVID-19 appears to cause damage to the sustentacular cells that support your olfactory neurons. This means that your brain is no longer able to register sensory information related to smell. Your sense of taste also relies on olfactory neurons, so it will tend to be similarly affected.

For some, loss of smell is accompanied by an even stranger symptom: phantosmia, the perception of phantom smells that don’t actually exist. These smells may be very unpleasant, making it difficult for you to eat normally.

Even a simple loss of smell often renders eating a challenge. Once you recover from COVID-19, a continuing loss of smell and taste can be a real cause for frustration. Treatments like olfactory training and topical corticosteroid sprays may be helpful.

How long does the loss of smell last?

Loss of smell does not appear to predict severity of COVID-19 symptoms. And, even if you had a mild case, symptoms of loss of smell can persist for weeks or months after your recovery.

In most cases, sensory problems clear up within a few weeks of recovery. About 90% of people with a lingering loss of smell or taste can expect improvement within 4 weeks. Others experience more lasting sensory damage after COVID-19. 

While some people may never fully recover their sense of smell and taste after tangling with COVID, there is reason to be hopeful. Recent studies show that nearly all patients with this symptom may see improvements within one year after infection.

The best way to avoid lingering COVID-19 symptoms is to prevent infection. In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, rely on public health tools like wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, including loss of smell, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, or fatigue, get tested now to learn your status. Contact GatherWell over the phone or book online today.

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