Dr's Casebook: One in four people with Covid experience taste disturbance

Loss of smell and taste are well recognised symptoms of Covid.

By Jane Chippindale
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 10:32 am

Dr Keith Souter writes: The two seem interlinked, as smell is an important part of tasting food and drink.

New research indicates that while they may be interlinked, and that the tendency is for them both to recover, some people continue to have a problem with one more than the other.

They think it is because they are actually distinct problems.

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A woman trying to smell a fresh tangerine after losing sense of smell and taste due to Covid. Photo: Adobe

Overall, on recovery from Covid about 50 per cent recover taste and smell within two to three weeks. Another 40 per cent will recover it by eight weeks. By the end of six months only two per cent will still have the problem.

In recovery a lot of people will experience ‘parosmia,’ meaning that their smell is distorted. Things might smell uncharacteristically unpleasant, like burned toast for example.

There is evidence that the nose can be retrained.

A collaboration by the British Rhinological Society and the charity AbScent is available at https://abscent.org/nosewell. The ‘NoseWell’ website gives lots of information and advice that might help.

It suggests using essential oils like rose, lemon, eucalyptus, and clove.

The new research from Monell Chemical Senses Center in the USA, recently published in Chemical Senses has focused on taste disorders in Covid.

They have been seeing an increasing number of problems over the past two years and differentiate the taste problems into three types.

Total loss of taste is called ageusia, partial loss is hypogeusia and distorted taste is called dysgeusia.

After analysing over 240 studies, they estimate that one in four people with Covid experience taste disturbance of some sort.

They also found that people aged between 36 to 50 years-old have the highest prevalence of taste loss out of all age groups.

To stimulate taste it is worth choosing meals with a variety of colours and textures.

It is also suggested to use aromatic herbs and spices in cooking for stronger flavours.

As long as there is no history of food or nut allergy, you can try adding cheese, bacon bits, olive oil, or toasted nuts.

Also, avoid meals that combine many ingredients, such as casseroles, as these recipes may dull the flavour of each individual food.

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