Yikes! COVID-19 Related Loss of Taste Could Be Permanent

While prolonged anosmia is rare, “when someone is denied their sense of smell, it changes the way they perceive the environment and their place in the environment.”

by Isabella Bridie DeLeo
Person eats food

Have you heard how a lot of people who have gotten COVID have mentioned they lost their sense of taste? Well, for some people, it might be permanent. Yeah.

Imagine never being able to smell or taste your morning coffee for the rest of your life. For a small number of people who contracted COVID-19, permanent loss of smell and taste could become an unfortunate reality added on to the already devastating toll of the pandemic, which has thus far killed more than 363,000 Americans, according to the CDC.

Many people who become infected with the novel coronavirus report experiencing symptoms of anosmia, i.e. the loss of smell or taste. Typically, the ability to taste your chicken soup or smell the dinner rolls baking in the oven returns after recovering from the virus, that is if you experienced anosmia at all. But lots of folks report symptoms of anosmia months and months after they’ve recovered from COVID-19.

Only time and ongoing research will tell how long anosmia in recovered COVID-19 patients persists. Nevertheless, the news is still potentially worrisome. While prolonged anosmia is ultimately quite rare, it can be disorienting and perhaps even life-altering. As Dr. Sandeep Robert Datta of Harvard Medical School told The New York Times, “You think of it as an aesthetic bonus sense,” however, Datta says, “when someone is denied their sense of smell, it changes the way they perceive the environment and their place in the environment. People’s sense of well-being declines. It can be really jarring and disconcerting.”

According to the Times, loss of taste and smell can lead to a loss of appetite plus “social isolation and anhedonia, an inability to feel pleasure, as well as a strange sense of detachment and isolation.” This is just another reason among many to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and not taking any necessary risks in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially for those who live to eat, rather than eat to live.