How Loss of Smell and Taste Is Different with COVID-19

Many of us have little touches of hypochondria. It’s not bad enough that we would need to go to the hospital, but we get concerned when something is going around. Hypochondriacs account for about five percent of people who seek medical care every year. But, even if it’s not enough to send you to the doctor, it’s human nature to worry and protect ourselves. That’s why many people have become preoccupied with two symptoms of COVID-19: the loss of smell or taste. Many of us are wondering if our lack of smell from a stuffy nose is allergies or something worse.

There are many reasons you can have problems smelling or tasting something. Seasonal allergies, a cold, the flu, new medications or many other factors can impact your taste or smell. Before getting worked up, there are some characteristics you should know about the specific symptoms for COVID-19.

With COVID-19, the loss of senses isn’t related to congestion. Your nose can be completely clear and still not working. This can also be the case with some medications. And, the loss of smell and taste is much more profound in people with COVID-19.

Moreover, people experiencing the symptom with COVID-19 have “true” loss of taste. It’s not that their sense of taste is dampened; they cannot taste things at all. The loss of taste is so complete that they can’t detect the difference between sweet and bitter flavors.

We found that smell loss was much more profound in the Covid-19 patents,” said Prof. Carl Philpott of the Univ. of East Anglia, who led a new study. “They were less able to identify smells, and they were not able to identify bitter or sweet tastes. In fact, it was this loss of true taste which seemed to be present in the COVID-19 patients compared to those with a cold… This research also shows that there are altogether different things going on when it comes to smell and taste loss for COVID-10 patients, compared to those with a bad cold.”

That means, if you are currently worried about a loss of senses and have experienced something similar to it in the past, you may be fine. It could just be a common ailment. While you should certainly reach out to your doctor with your concerns, you shouldn’t fret over a symptom that may be completely unrelated.

COVID-19 can cause inflammation throughout the body. The doctors believe that that may be impacting people’s taste receptors by damaging the part of the brain stem connected to the sense. Usually, when you lose your sense of taste, it’s because you have lost your sense of smell, and that is such a significant component of taste. In the case of COVID-19, the nerves that identify the difference between flavors aren’t working.

The loss of smell and taste happen suddenly with COVID-19, it’s not a gradual process. It is also, frequently, one of the earliest symptoms a person exhibits. If you experience it, don’t delay in contacting your doctor. But, if you have a stuffy nose, the symptoms are mild or you have just started taking a medication, you may have nothing to worry about!
August 20, 2020
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