When COVID-19 symptoms were first announced, they included ones familiar to us all from colds and flus: a dry cough, shortness of breath, etc. Then the CDC added “a new loss of sense of smell and taste” as a symptom, and Americans raised their eyebrows: What? That’s weird. Now there’s a new development: A new study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, shows those senses may never come back.
“Almost 90% of people who lost their sense of smell or taste while infected with Covid-19 improved or recovered within a month, a study has found. The study, in Italy, found 49% of patients had fully regained their sense of smell or taste and 40% reported improvements,” reports the BBC. “But 10% said their symptoms remained the same or had worsened. Given the scale of the pandemic, experts warn hundreds of thousands of people could face longer-term problems.”
A Core Symptom of the Virus
The medical terms are anosmia—the loss of smell—and dysgeusia—an altered sense of taste.
“A change in—or loss of—someone’s sense of smell or taste are now recognized as core symptoms of coronavirus,” the BBC goes on: “The international team of researchers surveyed 187 Italians who had the virus but who were not ill enough to be admitted to hospital. The individuals were asked to rate their sense of smell or taste soon after they were diagnosed and again a month later. A total of 113 reported an alteration in their sense of smell and/or taste:
- 55 said they had recovered fully
- 46 reported improvements in their symptoms
- 12 found their symptoms were unchanged or worse.”
Even Prince Charles is Affected
“We didn’t really know what to expect because of course we don’t have experience with anosmia caused by this virus,” Dr. Daniele Borsetto, a study co-author and senior clinical fellow at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals in London, told TODAY. “We know post-viral anosmia can last weeks. So overall, it’s not surprising.” “The virus behaves differently in different people, which may explain why some lose their smell for so much longer, he added,” says the show. “There are high-profile examples of this phenomenon as well: Britain’s Prince Charles, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March, still had not fully regained his sense of smell and taste by mid-June, the BBC reported.”
As for yourself, try your best to not catch COVID-19 at all, and do your best not to spread it: wear a well-fitted homemade mask with multiple layers of quilting fabric, or an off-the-shelf cone style mask; practice social distancing; wash your hands frequently; monitor your health; and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.