Doctors explain why your taste and smell might change after COVID

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 5:12 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - You’ve probably heard one of the most telling symptoms of COVID is loss of taste and smell. Doctors call this anosmia.

Those who’ve recovered from COVID, but still experience odd tastes and smells have something different that might last longer.

Doctors say COVID survivors can experience what’s called parosmia after recovering. It’s a lingering effect of the virus, making things taste and smell much different than they used to.

People with parosmia are turning to social media to express their experiences after COVID.

While some are coping with humor, others are saying the condition has impacted their quality of life and ability to eat.

“These are not life threatening, but they do affect our quality of life. They do contribute to depression and anxiety,” said Ear Nose and Throat Doctor (Otolaryngologists) Jeff Nelson.

What was once delicious or pleasant, might now smell or taste more like garbage or rotten food.

“Any virus can affect our nerves. As we get this virus that can live in the back of our nose, in the back of our throat, it can affect our smell receptors and can damage our nerves,” said Dr. Nelson.

The impacts of parosmia can last beyond COVID. Although your body fought off the infection, the nerve damage may persist.

“Some nerve damage is reparable and the body is able to fix itself, and sometimes it is not reparable. And unfortunately, we do not have good treatments for them,” said Nelson.

Nelson says the good news is that 90 percent of people who report changes in taste and smell during or after COVID do recover.

Doctor Nelson says if you have other nerve-related disorders, such as migraines or diabetes, your chances of developing parosmia after COVID-19 might be higher.

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