Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary widely from person to person, and the loss of smell and taste could be one of the most jarring. If you lose your ability to smell or taste, you may wonder how long it will be before you regain either function. Science doesn’t have a definitive answer, but we do have some understanding of the phenomenon.
“An estimated 80% of people with COVID-19 have smell disturbances,” according to Scientific American. But one study says that number may be as high as 98%—and some experts are even calling it a “cardinal” symptom. (Help keep your immune system strong with The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.)
The longest reported duration of adult patients having no sense of smell was 10.5 days and no sense of taste was 10 days in a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that surveyed adults with a positive COVID-19 test between March and June 2020. But while the loss of taste and smell can improve within a two-week period, it may last longer in some patients.
Among those who suffer from a loss of smell after a viral infection, between 60% and 80% have a chance of recovering “some” of the function in 365 days, according to Harvard Health Publishing. “The good news is that olfactory neurons are capable of regeneration,” Leo Newhouse, LICSW, writes in the publication. “The bad news is that not everyone will return to his or her pre-COVID level of functioning. And, sadly, some of us might never regain our sense of smell or taste at all.”
In the meantime, treatment options are “not great,” Dr. Nicholas Rowan, an assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University told WebMD. Rowan suggested smell training by intentionally smelling scents like essential oils every day. As for working out those taste buds, here are 16 Delicious Breakfast Sandwich Recipes You Won’t Believe Are Healthy.
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