Did the Virus Steal Your Senses?
A recent study found that some people recovering from the virus report lacking a sense of smell and taste up to six months later. But despite the long recovery time, experts stress that most people will regain both.
Even in very mild cases, some people who contracted the virus first reported being unable to smell, then subsequently experienced a loss of taste. A temporary loss of smell is known as anosmia. It’s a neurological symptom and was one of the earliest and most commonly reported indicators of the virus.
People need robust senses of smell and taste to keep us safe and healthy. In fact, some studies show that people with an impaired ability to smell and taste tend to follow less healthy diets. And we need a powerful sense of smell to serve as our early warning system for things such as smoke, gas leaks or food that’s gone off.
It’s worth trying to trigger your senses of smell and taste to return, if you have recently recovered from the virus but still have smell and taste loss. Here are a few ways to encourage or sharpen your senses of smell and taste:
Apply a bit of self-care. Trying a few over-the-counter treatments might help:
- alpha lipoic acid (ALA) supplements have powerful antioxidants that fight damaging free radical cells in the body. If free radicals are not balanced by antioxidants, it could lead to cell and tissue damage that increase the risk of health problems and contribute to aging.
- zinc and vitamin A supplements. Zinc helps to maintain immune function, as does Vitamin A which is not only important for the immune system but also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs work properly.
- over-the-counter corticosteroid nasal sprays may prove helpful. They are one of the first treatments recommended for nasal allergies. A corticosteroid nose spray, such as budesonide, fluticasone, flunisolide or mometasone decrease inflammation within the nasal passages.
Add spices to your food. Even if your senses of smell and taste are a little jaded, you should still retain full function in your ‘irritant’ nerve. That’s the nerve that makes you cry when you cut an onion. So use spices such as hot chili powder to liven up your food.
Indulge in a dozen oysters. Among other benefits, oysters are one of the highest food sources of zinc, and zinc deficiencies contribute to a loss of the senses of smell and taste.
Eat only when you are hungry. Our sense of smell (and thus taste) is strongest when we are hungriest.
Serve food that looks like itself. Forget fancy presentations. If you’re serving fish, keep it looking like fish. Your sense of taste is stronger if your brain can connect what you’re eating with how it looks.
Chew thoroughly and slowly. This releases more flavour and extends the time that the food lingers in your mouth so that it spends more time in contact with your tastebuds. Even before you start chewing, stir your food around—this aerates the molecules in the food, releasing more of their scent.
Clean the air. Our sense of smell is strongest in the summer and spring, most likely because of higher moisture content in the air. It’s also a good idea to keep the air in your home as clean, clear and fresh as possible. Perhaps consider buying an air purifier. MedPPE Canada sells an air purifier that quickly and effectively removes 99.99% of aerosols carrying harmful viruses, bacteria, mold and smoke from the air in your home. For more information go to: https://medppecan.com/product/purashield-500-cabinet/
Go for a brisk 10-minute walk or run. Our sense of smell is higher after exercise. Researchers think it may be related to additional moisture in the nose.
Drink a glass of water every hour or so. Dry mouth—whether due to medication or simply dehydration—can adversely affect your sense of taste.
Try a little old-fashioned, olfactory training. This can easily be done at home and might prove helpful in promoting your sense of smell to start working again. Begin by smelling a few readily available household items such as lemon, coffee, perfumes, ginger and garlic. For the more adventurous, try several different types of essential oils.