Loss of smell and taste with a coronavirus

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For the most part, the symptoms of coronavirus are similar to respiratory illnesses such as the flu or the common cold. But the loss of smell with coronavirus is one of the most important differences. With this symptom, there are no doubts that you are infected exactly with COVID-19. Therefore, you should immediately seek medical help.

But is this symptom the key one? Why does the sense of smell disappear and can it be restored? Let's figure it out.

Is the loss of smell and taste with a coronavirus a key symptom?

Anosmia with coronavirus is already officially the main symptom of coronavirus, as it occurs in 30% of cases. Scientists from the University of California have proved this. According to their research, loss of smell with coronavirus can sometimes be even the only and independent symptom.

However, most often anosmia is accompanied by the general symptoms of coronavirus:

  • Fever;

  • Dry cough;

  • Shortness of breath;

  • Chest pain;

  • Headaches;

  • Weakness.

The severity of loss of smell and taste with a coronavirus is related to the severity of other symptoms. With a complete loss of smell, patients complained of severe shortness of breath, severe intermittent cough, and pain in the whole body.

This symptom appears about 3 days after infection. The most common question is the following: If I got a loss of smell with coronavirus how many days would it last?

Loss of smell lasts for many days at a coronavirus - 7 days on average. If anosmia persists for 2 or 3 weeks, then this indicates a more severe form of the disease.

Why in the coronavirus the sense of smell is lost?

Scientists have already proven that the coronavirus can also infect some nerve cells. Olfactory sensory neurons are one of them. They are unable to produce special proteins against the coronavirus and are therefore vulnerable to its spread. 

The affected nerve cells lose their connection with the receptors. Thus, they cause a gradual loss of smell.

Will smell and taste recover after coronavirus?

Sense of smell after coronavirus returns in several weeks. This is much faster than in cases of viral infections that directly affect the olfactory neurons. However, the severity of the disease also plays a big role.

An international team of doctors from Italy studied the course of the disease in 187 Italians. All patients had relatively mild COVID-19 form and did not require hospitalization. The research results are as follows:

  • 49% of people noted that all sensations returned in full;

  • 40% - a noticeable improvement in symptoms;

  • 10% - symptoms remain or worsen.

For people with severe symptoms, it took longer to recover.

In those who recover quickly, the coronavirus only affects the cells of the nasal mucosa. In those who recover more slowly, this virus affects the nerves involved in the transmission of the sense of smell. And these nerve cells take longer to recover.

To sum it up, it's worth noting that anosmia is indeed a key symptom of the coronavirus. Therefore, if you have this symptom, you should self-isolate with your family members and get tested for coronavirus.