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Anosmia: Loss of Smell After COVID can be Persistent

Apr 27, 2022
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Temporary loss of smell, or Anosmia, is one of the primary and most common symptoms in people that contract COVID-19. And while it affects people of all ages, most aren’t aware of its lingering persistence after clearing the infection.

Temporary loss of smell, or Anosmia, is one of the primary and most common symptoms in people that contract COVID-19. And while it affects people of all ages, most aren’t aware of its lingering persistence after clearing the infection. In this posting, we will discuss what Anosmia is, and what future prognosis may look like.

Anosmia: Loss of Smell After Covid Can Be Persistent

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in 2020, anosmia (a loss of smell) quickly became a symptom. Unfortunately, while some people regained their sense of smell within a few weeks, others were left with a disrupted sense of smell for months or even indefinitely. It’s estimated that 5 to 10 percent of people who have COVID-related anosmia will experience a long-term or permanent loss of smell.

What Does COVID-Related Anosmia Look Like?

It’s theorized that COVID-induced anosmia is often one of the earliest, most common signs of COVID. It takes the form of complete loss of smell and the inability to distinguish between fragrances. The length of anosmia varies between individuals with many people either recovering their sense of smell or experiencing parosmia after recovering from covid.

Parosmia occurs when your sense of smell is distorted. Interestingly, the odors associated with parosmia tend to be unpleasant and repugnant. For many, this turns the scent of a flower or a cup of coffee into an unpleasant scent such as burning rubber or rotten flesh.

What Causes Long-Term Anosmia?

Your olfactory system consists of the structures that you depend on to smell. One theory suggests that COVID-induced anosmia is due to severe inflammation in the olfactory system’s cells which prevents or impairs the smell-related processes from functioning correctly.

How this translates to long-term anosmia isn’t entirely understood. It’s thought that the inflammation can last for extended periods or that the cells can even die, and the time it takes for the body to repair these processes is extensive. Another thought suggests that gene expression of the factors that control the olfactory nerve cells is altered.

The likelihood of developing long-term COVID symptoms isn’t always related to the severity of your initial COVID infection. Some people are severely ill but recover entirely within weeks, while others have a mild case but are left with lingering symptoms that last for months.

The Impact of Extended Anosmia

Anosmia that lasts for months can interfere with your ability to lead a high quality of life and return to your normal activities. For a large portion of individuals, the alteration or complete loss of smell causes them to struggle to consume a healthy, balanced diet. Affected individuals may find little enjoyment in or motivation to prepare and consume meals or be reluctant due to foods now smelling unappealing. This can make it difficult for you to recover and return to your former activities.

We also depend on our sense of smell to alert us to dangerous smells, like smoke, gas leaks, and spoiled food. Without this ability, you’re potentially at risk.

What Options are Available for Treating COVID-Related Anosmia?

Research is still being conducted to determine the best anosmia remedies. One anosmia treatment that shows promise is smell training.

Smell training is an anosmia treatment that involves sniffing at least four distinct odors two times a day for several months. It’s believed that smell training helps the body reorganize the olfactory pathways or olfactory genes and regenerate the olfactory nerves.

Need to pursue loss of smell treatment for your anosmia? Contact Ascada Health to get started!

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