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Why does COVID-19 steal your sense of taste and smell?

Victims report a sudden and complete loss of some senses.

ATLANTA — ATLANTA – The coronavirus is frustrating its victims with aches, pains, and a sudden and total robbery of their sense of taste and smell.

When you’re feeling lousy, everyone loves a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup. With COVID-19, many can’t enjoy the taste of their go-to comfort food.

After hearing from doctors around the country the CDC added loss of taste and smell to the list of symptoms for COVID-19.

Hanley Bradfield remembers it during her bout with COVID-19.

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“I remember missing the smell of my dog,” says Hanley. “In early March I complained that the chips I was eating, that the flavoring was left off.”

Let’s look into why it’s happening.

The flu and even the common cold can cause you to lose some sense of taste and smell.

“That’s because we’re having trouble getting air into our nose,” says Dr. Maria Sundram of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. “For COVID-19…it seems to be occurring in people who also don’t have nasal congestion.”

Dr. Sundram explains that researchers are still looking into COVID-19’s impact on our senses. She tells us there are smell receptors in the back of our nostrils. Cells and neurons there send messages to the brain.

“It’s possible that COVID-19 is looking for different epithelial cells to infect and sees these epithelial cells right next to the neurons and thinks, oh, this is a great environment for me,” says Dr. Sundram.

Our sense of taste is tied to our ability to smell.

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“There’s an interaction between the air that goes into your nose and the air that goes into your mouth,” says Sundram. “There’s also interaction in our brain.”

A sudden and complete loss of taste and smell may signal a need to be tested for the coronavirus.

The good news, according to Dr. Sundram, is if COVID-19 is to blame your senses will return shortly after you recover.


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