Can Covid Permanently Damage Your Sense of Smell?

After getting coronavirus (COVID-19), you might still lose your sense of smell or taste or have it change. It might take a while for your sense of smell or like to get back to normal. If you have coronavirus, food may smell or taste different to you. Food taste can be bland, salty, sweet, or metallic.

Some covid-19 survivors who have lost their sense of smell for a long time miss the smell of their child after a bath or a whiff of food that used to be their favorite. Others are now used to the smell of garbage and sometimes drink spoiled milk by accident. “Anosmia,” as experts call it, is one of the strangest symptoms of long covid, and researchers may be one step closer to figuring out what causes it and how to fix it.

Researchers from Duke University, Harvard University, and the University of California, San Diego, led a small study published online in Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday. The study gives a theory and new information about how people lose their sense of smell over time.

Can Covid Permanently Damage Your Sense of Smell
Can Covid Permanently Damage Your Sense of Smell

Scientists looked at samples of olfactory epithelial tissue, where smell cells live, from 24 biopsies. Nine of these biopsies came from post-covid patients who had lost their sense of smell and couldn’t get it back. Even though the sample size was small, the results suggest that the loss of sense is caused by an ongoing immune attack on cells that are responsible for smell, which continues even after the virus is gone, and a decrease in the number of olfactory nerve cells.

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Bradley Goldstein, an associate professor in Duke’s Department of Head and Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences and Department of Neurobiology and one of the paper’s authors, called the results “striking” and said, “It’s almost like an autoimmune process in the nose.”

There has been researching on short-term smell loss that uses animal models. The new study is interesting because it looks at long-term smell loss and uses high-tech molecular analysis on human tissue.

The study shows that people are still interested in the strange symptom. In July, researchers said that at least 5.6% of covid-19 patients have long-term problems with their sense of smell. This study, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal BMJ, showed that women and people whose smell loss was worse at first were less likely to return it. The Post has also said that seniors are especially at risk.

This month, a small study of covid-19 patients showed that long-term problems with smell could cause changes in the parts of the brain that deal with the smell. The Duke study builds on a study that came out in February and found that people who died of covid-19 had fewer smell receptors built into their membranes than expected.

Losing your sense of smell can be a big deal. It’s a way to find threats, like the gas stove you left on by accident or the smell of a rotten egg that makes you sick to your stomach. And it’s a feeling that’s often linked to memories.

Carol Yan is an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon at the University of California, San Diego. She is also one of the authors of the new study. She has helped people who have lost their sense of smell for a long time. “It’s pretty terrible for them. “At this point, it’s often been over two years since they lost their sense of smell,” she says. “They are asking themselves, ‘Why me? Why am I still losing my sense of smell when so many of my friends, coworkers, and family members have gotten better?'”

Doctors have had a hard time trying to figure out what causes it. “Clinically, when you look at these patients and look up their noses, everything looks perfect,” she says. “So this is going on at the level of molecules.”

Can Covid Permanently Damage Your Sense of Smell
Can Covid Permanently Damage Your Sense of Smell (Source)

Yan says the study gives people hope because some have said that the loss of smell is related to the central nervous system. However, this study shows that at least some of the problem is caused by inflammation in the nose, which is where the virus first attacked. It could mean that easier treatment that can be put on the skin might be possible.

Yan’s research on the localized immune response backs up her research on platelet-rich plasma as a treatment for losing her sense of smell. “What we found in the clinical trial is that PRP is more likely than placebo to help people with covid 19-related smell loss,” she says. She adds that PRP, which has anti-inflammatory properties, isn’t a “magic bullet” and needs more research, but it seems promising.

And there is a lot at stake. Yan says you can enjoy food and the world around you when you smell it. It even changes how you relate to other people. “I’ve had patients come to see me and say, ‘I’m a little embarrassed to come to see you. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me. I just lost my sense of smell, but it has already made a big difference in my quality of life.'”

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