(TT) – Many people have reported loss of smell and taste during this covid-19 pandemic.These two (loss of smell and taste) are the distinct features of covid-19 in the sense that many people have reported them as the only symptoms they had.
Other common symptoms of covid, like; cough, fever, sneezing, sour throat, flu, Fatigue e.t.c can also be seen in common cold, malaria, Typhoid, HIV and many other diseases. Studies show that some of infected people temporarily lose their sense of tastes and smells. This is because their sensory neurons were involved and they might be more sensitive to altered olfactory perception.
This is a comment from favour who tested positive for covid-19 in Fabruary this year (2021), her senses of smell and taste are yet to come back normal. Not only favour, many others have or might have experienced or are experiencing the same thing. In some cases, only these two manifest as the symptoms of covid-19.
Why the loss of smell during covid infection?
Behind the nose is the Olfactory bulb housing the sensory neurons. We sense odours through these cells “the olfactory sensory neurons” which transmit signals to the brain for proper interpretation. These neurons are connected to the brain which means that if the virus reach the brain through these neurons, more serious long-lasting damage could be done. The mucus membrane of our nasal cavities contains some hair-like projections which are the extensions of those sensory neurons that respond to molecules of smells.
It could have been disastrous if the virus can reach the brain through these particular sensory neurons (cells) but thanks to their lack of ACE2 receptors which virus uses to infect cells. There is loss of smell during covid-19 infection not because these sensory neurons are damaged, No they are not, but because our nasal linings which contain support cells that interact with those sensory neurons are damaged.
The nasal linings contain the ACE2 receptors through which the virus infect the support cells thereby causing loss of interaction between the support cells and the sensory neurons, the hair-like projections of the sensory neurons are lost as well.
This loss of smell will last till the repair of this damage is done, the period it will last varies across individuals. It could be weeks or even beyond six months. Without this repair, one cannot regain her or his sense of smell (or taste). Smell and taste are somehow linked, most people who reported loss of taste might be due to loss of smell and not probably complete loss of taste.
Thierry started recovering with conflicting senses of smells and tastes. Thierry’s situation started as loss of smell and taste (Anosmia), then progressed to having conflicticting senses of taste and smell. Within two weeks, Thierry partially regained his senses of taste and smell (hyposmia), everything tastes and smells normal again. Such conflicting senses of smell and taste could actually be a sign of recovery, the support cells have started regenerating again.
Regaining your sense of smell and taste
Self smell training can help you regain your sense of smell by repeated exposure to smells of your interest. This exercise will not give you immediate recovery, but will reduce the time it will take you to have your full sense of smell back. As I said earlier smell and taste are linked to some extent, you will notice that as you start the training your sense of taste could be the first to come back.
Get any three different scents of your choice, it could be a flower, perfume, lemon, fruits or juice. Sniff them actively for 20 to 30 seconds (Thrice a day) and try to remember how they used to smell whether you percive the smell or not, just try to remember.
Again, this is not an immediate cure, it will help you train your brain as you recover.