Can you lose sense of taste and smell forever due to COVID-19? Survivor narrates his experience
Here's what happened to her!
Elizabeth Medina, a 38-year-old woman, lost her sense of taste and smell at the start of the pandemic. Now she fears she will never get both of her senses back.
Medina is a guidance counselor at a New York school. Recalling the frightening incident, Medina said:
Three days after testing positive for Covid-19, everything tasted like cardboard.
Saying that she has cried every day for months, she said:
I have lost many everyday pleasures I once enjoyed, including eating and cooking.
Following her symptoms and condition, Medina consulted ear, nose, and throat doctors and neurologists, tried various nasal sprays and participated in a group of patients undergoing experimental treatment that uses fish oil.
Nothing has worked out for Medina till now, so life is a constant struggle for the poor woman. To stimulate her senses, she puts copious amounts of spices on everything she eats, pours aromatic herbs into her tea, and regularly sniffs a bracelet soaked in essential oils.
However, Medina’s undying personal attempts to taste or smell anything have been in vain.
What happened to Medina?
According to reports, Medina is one of a growing number of people with lasting anosmia – a poorly understood disorder that has become an underestimated consequence for many in the pandemic.
Valentina Parma, a psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, who chairs the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research (GCCR), which was formed at the start of the pandemic, shared:
Most Covid-19 sufferers who lose the ability to taste or smell recover within three or four weeks. But 10 to 15 percent lose the senses for months.
Long Covid Effects Explained
Sensory loss is estimated to affect more than two million Americans and 10 million people worldwide. Taste and smell are often seen as less essential than sight and hearing, and their loss is often considered less severe than other effects of “Long Covid”. However, they are a crucial part of socialization; we pick mates based on smells.
The psychologist continued to explain:
Their disappearance is frequently compounded not just by nutritional problems but by anxiety and even depression.
Organizations that help Anosmic patients
Medina shared that she, like other anosmics, found solace and solidarity in a support group organized by a hospital near her home. According to sources, such support groups have flourished on social networks.
The founder of one such group, Chrissi Kelly, stated:
The AbScent group, formed as a charity in Britain in 2019, has seen its members on various platforms soar from 1,500 to more than 45,000 since the pandemic began.
On the organization’s main Facebook page, the question that haunts Medina repeatedly comes up:
Will I ever regain my sense of taste and smell?
Members of these groups motivate people to continue fighting. A 26-year-old member, Dominika Uhrakova, who lives in Southampton, England, shared her story on AbScent’s Facebook page and said:
It’s almost exactly a year after I first lost my smell and taste, and I’m pretty much okay now. Hang in there, don’t lose hope, and I wish you all best of luck.
Way Forward for Anosmics
At this stage, it is quite challenging to predict how things will evolve. But there is one good indicator that anosmics are on their way to recovery: developing parosmia, when people’s smells of familiar things are distorted, like smelling garbage while sniffing coffee.
According to sources, presently, there is no known cure for anosmia, and the only treatment recommended without reservation is to smell four different scents twice a day. Regarding this, Parma said:
This treatment works in 30 percent of cases but only after three to six months of practice.
Groups and People available to help Anosmics
People like Elizabeth Medina now continue to share their experiences and push the medical community to intensify research and recognize the seriousness of their symptoms.
Katie Boateng, an American who lost her sense of taste and smell in 2009, created the Smell Podcast, a mine of information and advice for her companions in misfortune in 2018.
Boateng is now part of a patient advocacy group that helps guide GCCR’s research. She said:
Although I have given up hope of being cured myself, I am still very hopeful that we can lead to research that can heal people in the future.
Leah Holzel, a food expert who lost her sense of smell from 2016 to 2019, has helped six people recover from anosmia since the start of the pandemic. She is a coach who helps people perform daily sniffing exercises.
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