How to Regain Smell After COVID
One of the most puzzling and concerning symptoms of COVID can be losing your sense of smell. Smell might not be one of the major senses like sight or hearing, but you definitely notice when it’s not there. In some cases, smell can even get distorted where familiar items don’t smell the same as they used to, including food, candles, and perfumes.
Also known as anosmia, this symptom has affected many COVID-19 patients, leaving them without the ability to detect scents or taste food. In this article, we’ll discuss why people lose their sense of smell when they get COVID, how long it typically lasts, and what can be done to regain this important sense.
If you have other questions about COVID, check out GatherWell’s other blog posts like “Can I Transmit COVID If I Test Negative” and “Think You’ve Never Had COVID? Here’s How to Know for Sure.”
Why do people lose their sense of smell when they get COVID?
The loss of smell in COVID-19 patients is thought to be caused by the virus attacking and damaging the olfactory system, which is responsible for our sense of smell. The virus gains entry into the body through the nose and mouth, where it can cause inflammation and damage to the delicate olfactory epithelium, which houses the olfactory receptor neurons that detect scents.
The loss of smell is not unique to COVID-19 and can be a symptom of other respiratory illnesses. However, what sets COVID-19 apart is the severity and duration of anosmia.
How long does the loss of smell last after getting COVID-19?
The duration of anosmia can vary widely among COVID-19 patients, with some COVID patients regaining their sense of smell within a few days, while others take much longer. Some cases can last for weeks or even months. A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that the median duration of anosmia in COVID-19 patients was 21 days. However, some patients reported a complete loss of smell even after six months.
The severity of the loss of smell can also vary, with some patients reporting a partial loss of smell or distorted sense of smell known as parosmia, where scents are perceived differently than usual, such as smelling something sweet when it should be sour. In some cases, patients may also experience phantosmia, where they smell odors that are not present.
What can people do to regain their sense of smell after getting COVID?
The good news is that most COVID-19 patients who experience a loss of smell will eventually regain this sense, though the timeline can vary. Some patients may regain their sense of smell without any intervention, while others may benefit from smell training exercises that can help stimulate the olfactory system and speed up recovery.
Smell training involves repeatedly exposing oneself to different scents, such as essential oils or spices, and trying to identify them. This can help re-establish the neural connections in the olfactory system and improve the sense of smell over time. A study published in the Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology found that smell training was effective in improving the sense of smell in COVID-19 patients.
In addition to smell training, other treatments that may help improve the sense of smell in COVID-19 patients include intranasal corticosteroids, which can reduce inflammation in the nose and improve the sense of smell. Also, zinc supplements may play a role in olfactory function.
GatherWell is Minneapolis’ Go-To Destination for COVID Testing
The loss of smell is a common and distressing symptom of COVID-19 that can last for weeks or even months in some cases. While there is no guaranteed way to speed up recovery, smell training exercises and other treatments may help improve the sense of smell in COVID-19 patients.
We hope this article has been helpful and informative. Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, GatherWell has been Minneapolis’ Go-To Destination for COVID Testing. If you need to get tested, if a loved one needs to get tested, or if you’re a small business owner looking for group testing, we have you covered.