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Taste and Smell After COVID-19

Loss of sense is a serious symptom.

Woman smelling orange peel to show loss of taste and smell from COVID

Imagine biting into a perfectly cooked steak and tasting . . . nothing. This is the reality for millions of people who contracted COVID-19. Recovery of the ability to taste and smell may take up to 6 months after COVID-19, according to a study published in The BMJ, and women are more likely to experience loss of these senses and have a longer time to recovery, researchers found.

After evaluating 18 previous studies of smell and taste loss across several continents and in varying demographic groups, it was determined that about 5% of adults who have been infected with COVID-19 globally (at least 27 million cases) may lose their sense of smell or taste for at least 6 months.

This could be especially problematic for older individuals suffering from a loss of these senses as it may reduce appetite and the desire to eat—and that may lead to dangerous undernourishment. But it may cause psychological issues and feelings of social isolation for anyone and, thus, it’s a symptom that should not be taken lightly.

See also: How COVID-19 Has Changed Eating Habits

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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