Long Covid: Loss of Smell and Taste

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During the pandemic, many infected people reported having loss of smell and taste. According to a 2022 study, more than 5% of global Covid-19 survivors have still experiencing long-lasting taste and smell problems.

Dr. Justin Turner, rhinologist and an associate professor of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told CNN “As science learns more about how Covid-19 attacks and disrupts smell, I think you’re going to see interventions that are more targeted. Anyone still struggling with a loss of smell and taste should think positively and assume their sense of smell will return. Yes, there are some people that won’t recover, so for those folks, we want them to not ignore it. We want them to take it seriously.”

Surgeon Dr. Eric Holbrook, an associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Harvard Medical School, told CNN “Covid-19 affected younger people much more than other forms of post-viral smell loss. You wouldn’t see much smell loss in the pediatric population, for example, and now it’s very common.”

How the damage Occurs?

According to CNN article, which quotes various health experts writes:

  • “At first scientists believed it infected neurons in the nose responsible for transmitting smells from the environment into the brain. Those neurons sit in the olfactory bulbs at the very top of each nostril and send out axons, or cables, to unique sensory spots in the brain.
  • “Soon studies discovered the virus does not enter those neurons at all. Instead, it attacks sustentacular cells, also known as supporting cells, which provide nourishment and protection to nerve cells from birth. Unlike many other cells, neurons in the nose undergo rebirth every two to three months.
  • Dr. Patel told CNN “People who are older and have chronic diseases that affect the nervous system, such as diabetes, are often more susceptible to olfactory damage. It’s the very small vessels in the body, including the nose, that are affected by diabetes, disturbing blood, nutrient and oxygen flow to these olfactory nerves. People with chronic sinus or allergy inflammation in the nose – anything that makes it harder for our system to bounce back will likely be at higher risk as well.”