By Sola Ogundipe
A loss of smell or taste is one of the most unusual symptoms related to
COVID-19 infection. Several persons that have come down with the disease in recent times discovered that they lost these senses at one point during their illness.
While the infection can be mild, yet so severe, it can take weeks and months before the senses of smell and taste get back to normal.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, it gradually emerged that many people infected with the novel coronavirus were losing their senses of smell and taste, even without displaying other symptoms.
Several infected people could actually lose their sense of taste and their ability to detect chemically triggered sensations such as spiciness.
Currently, as the pandemic enters the second wave, loss of taste and smell has become established as an early symptom of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria and probably all over the world.
Often, the types of symptoms and their severity can vary from person to person, but in addition to respiratory symptoms like a cough and shortness of breath, but doctors now affirm that COVID-19 can also various symptoms that include loss of your sense of smell or taste.
It’s not uncommon for upper respiratory infections such as the common cold to affect the senses of smell and taste. Both senses of taste are closely linked. In fact, experiencing a loss of smell greatly impacts the sense of taste.
Loss of smell can occur suddenly or prior to other symptoms and is often accompanied by loss of taste. In particular, a loss of smell may also be a potential indicator of a mild case of COVID-19 and is more closely associated with outpatient care as opposed to hospital admission.
It’s still unclear exactly how a loss of smell and taste happens with COVID-19, but it is possible that the virus disables nerve cells associated with the senses.
In the views of an infectious diseases expert at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Dr Adefolarin Opawoye, once you notice that you’re having loss of smell, you are most likely to have contracted Covid.
According to Opawoye, while a lot of COVID patients are likely to present with fever, sore throat, cough, loss of taste or alteration of taste, one of the most telling symptoms of the Covid-19 infection is loss of smell.
“Not many cases present like that. Anytime you discover you have loss of smell, don’t bother going to the lab for testing, just go to the isolation centre or isolate yourself because you’re most likely to have contracted Covid,” he remarked.
Opawoye, however, disclosed that it is not every patient of Covid that lose their sense of smell and taste.
Some persons are asymptomatic but can still spread the virus to others.
“There is no way to predict who can be sick and who is spreading the virus. Some people will be very sick some will not, we all have to be careful and wear our facemasks.”
Essentially, the loss of smell or taste due to COVID-19 appears to last slightly longer compared to other upper respiratory infections. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention the average duration of loss of smell or taste is unpredictable.
The loss of smell and taste have no medicinal therapy, but could be a means of safeguarding the body from severe respiratory attacks of the COVID-19 infection.
In certain instances, clinicians report that patients with moderate or severe forms of Covid, who require critical ICU care, rarely report experiencing a sudden loss of smell as a symptom. This is being interpreted as a good prognosis and indication of a mild form of the infection.
Most people who experience loss of smell or taste due to COVID-19 find that these symptoms resolve from within a few weeks to several months.
You can test your sense of smell and taste if you are concerned that you may be losing these senses. Simply carry out a smell and taste test
Find something that has a strong, characteristic smell such as coffee beans, cinnamon, or fresh garlic. For taste, try things like chocolate, citrus, coffee and salt.
If you’re concerned that you may have contracted the new coronavirus, you can seek out a testing site near you to confirm whether you have COVID-19.