Losing Sense of Smell with Covid

by Haley Strom

As you wander around your house the next few days, be sure to take a whiff of the delicious dinner cooking in the oven. Unlike the healthy population, certain people who have experienced Covid have lost their sense of smell, with no clear indication of when it will return.

According to NBC News, “The coronavirus infects cells by binding to a receptor found on their outer surface.” They say that the cells in our nose that help us detect smell are filled with this receptor, making our sense of smell a target for the virus. 

According to research from Harvard Medical School, a Harvard study said that the loss of smell is the symptom that distinguishes Covid from any other virus. When pinpointing whether or not someone lost their sense of smell due to Covid or a cold, doctors mainly believe that it is due to having Covid. This is because many patients experiencing a cold or the flu suffer congestion in the nose, making it so they have difficulty smelling things, according to  Dr. Andrew Lane, a professor at John Hopkins. Dr. Lane says that he finds this evidence interesting because patients who have lost their sense of smell due to Covid have not reported having nasal congestion, like they would  with a cold or the flu. 

When speaking with Lynda Strom, my mom who just experienced Covid herself, said that she experienced difficulty with her sense of smell for about a day, but questioned if it was all just in her head. She said, “I was trying to figure out if I was having difficulty smelling things around me, or if I just felt congested making me not able to smell things.” 

According to UC San Diego Health, researchers at the University of California San Diego were able to conclude that people are less likely to report signs of loss of smell when hospitalized than those who have Covid and remain home. They found that 26.9% of people in the hospital report losing their sense of smell, whereas 66.7% of people report losing their sense of smell when being treated as an outpatient. 

“Covid initially starts in the nose and upper airway, resulting in an infection that is less severe and sudden in onset, decreasing the risk of the overwhelming host immune response”, said the researchers at UCSD.

So in the end, when a patient loses their sense of smell, that is the main attribute to Covid. Many ill patients who have lost their sense of smell can say that it was caused from having Covid. In order to try and prevent getting Covid, it is recommended that you wear a face covering around others. If you suspect that you may have Covid, you should reach out to your doctor and receive a Covid test.

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