01/7Why is loss of smell and taste such a confusing COVID symptom?
Anosmia or a loss of smell remains to be one of the most puzzling symptoms related to COVID-19. What started off as a mild, rare symptom which affected only a small percentage of COVID-19 patients is now being predominantly reported across the world. For many, a loss of smell and taste can be so severe, it can take weeks and months before the senses get back to normal.
02/7COVID and loss of smell and taste
Loss of smell, which can also go on to affect your ability to taste normal food can also be quite debilitating and frustrating for people who experience this 'mild' COVID symptom. Even so, many experts believe that experiencing loss of smell or taste, coupled by appetite reduction may be a good sign of the infection, as it may protect people from experiencing the other lethal signs of COVID-19, i.e. respiratory and inflammatory attacks.
Many doctors are now saying that people who experience complete loss of smell and taste, with gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramps, diarrhoea may only suffer from a mild form of novel coronavirus, which has now impacted over 55 million people across the world. Not only does loss of smell and taste have no medicinal therapy, but it could also mean that they have safeguarded themselves from severe respiratory attacks, which usually kick in from week 2 of COVID infection.
According to Indian doctors who have been working on mapping the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, patients with a moderate or severe form of the disease, who require critical ICU care rarely report experiencing a sudden loss of smell as a symptom, which could imply that it is largely a good 'prognosis' and only a mild form of COVID-19.
03/7What does the loss of smell or taste feel like?
Statistics suggest that nearly 40% of COVID patients experience a change or altered loss of smell and taste. In some cases, it can affect the senses altogether. For some people, the changed sense of smell can be so overpowering, it can change the way normal scents and foods taste.
Spices, sweets, sour things can taste iffy and unappealing. If it continues for a while, it can also make the person averse to eating and score low on nutrition, since changing food tastes can make them experience a loss of appetite as well.
In many cases, a loss of smell can also lead to signs of lasting damage. The longer it lasts, more of a psychological manifestation it turns into.
Yet, no matter how disturbing it can be, anosmia and hyposmia can be a sign of healthy recovery.
COVID-19, caused by SARS-COV-2 begins to complicate between days 5-10 post infection onset. It's important to watch out for signs of complications and severity in these days. One of them being respiratory distress.
Respiratory complications brought on by laboured breathing, chest pain, oxygen deprivation, heaviness and shortness of breath are typical signs of the virus causing damage in the body's vital organs, including the lungs. In many cases, COVID-19 patients require the assistance of oxygen support machines as well. Respiratory distress can also be damaging to patients who already have a history of lung problems.
It can also be a sign of cytokine storm associated infamously associated with COVID-19 when the body's immune system turns on itself and often may lead to organ damage and failure. Now, most patients who show signs of healthy recovery, or suffer from a mild form of infection start to show signs of recovery in the initial week itself. They can also have fairly mild signs of the infection, such as a sore throat, or cough, or just loss of smell itself.
05/7Can it be an indicator of a healthy recovery?
Hence, if the latter is the only symptom you are showcasing, and do not record high temperature or other typical symptoms of the infection, it may indicate a healthy and comparatively easier recovery on your part.
Strangely, there is also another study which suggests how the loss of smell and taste may be an indicator of positive recovery for COVID-19 patients. As olfactory senses recover and regenerate from a viral bout, they misinterpret certain connections and make you experience an altered sense of smell and taste. As they regrow, it takes a while before you get your normal sense of smell back.
06/7How long does it take to recover from the loss of smell and taste?
For patients, it can take anywhere from a week to a month or more for signs to improve and recovery to progress. Engaging in therapies like smell training can also be made use of if altered sense makes it difficult for a person to eat normally.
07/7What are the signs you need to look out for?
As a single sign, loss of smell and taste can be rather difficult to mark as a sole COVID sign. It can also present to some extent in some cases of flu, sinus and nasal congestion. If you suspect COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus in any way possible, look out for the following signs
-An impaired sense of smell all of a sudden
-Experiencing gastrointestinal difficulties
If any of these issues persist for over 3 days, consider getting a COVID test done at the earliest.