Loss of smell and taste is a very common early sign of a COVID-19 infection. Smell can return or improve from within a few weeks of the virus clearing the body, but it may take months to improve. COVID-19 typically produces a range of flu-like symptoms, including a cough and fatigue, but it can also cause foods to taste different – even strange – causing an unusual sense of smell; i.e., things not smelling normal, foods tasting foul as well as a complete or partial loss of taste and smell.

A recent analysis published by Tong et. Al in May 5 2020 in the Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery White Journal showed that 53% of people with COVID-19 reported problems with smell and taste. In the absence of other chronic nasal problems or allergies this common symptom may be from COVID-19.

To try and improve your sense of smell after COVID-19 the following suggestions may help:

  • Nasal steroids such as Flonase®, which is over-the-counter, may help reduce inflammation in the nose.
  • Practicing to smell things such as oranges, perfumes, oils and coffee etc. may help to stimulate new neural pathways to develop to hasten recovery from loss of smell.
  • Oral steroids may help
  • Patelet rich plasma, which is put inside the nose, may help to regenerate nerve cells
  • Time

Most of the time this loss of smell is temporary, at 2 months Lechien et al in the Journal of Internal Medicine 11/2020 reported in a multi-center study that nearly 80% of patients had regained smell and taste and 95% regained by 6 months, so time is on your side.

Allergy season is here. After you read this you’ll know some of the differences between allergy symptoms and COVID-19.

Allergies and COVID-19 do have overlapping symptoms and it’s not unusual since the onset of the pandemic to feel anxious at the first sign of nasal congestion or reduced sense of smell, or to know the difference between the two. The following symptoms are more often from allergies:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Headaches
  • Itching, watery eyes and itchy nose

People with seasonal allergies tend to have symptoms for several months at a time in the spring and fall . Their symptoms are often helped by taking antihistamine (such as Claritin®, Zyrtec®, Astellin®, etc. ) and nasal steroid medication to keep them under control. Covid-19 symptoms do not really improve with allergy medication.

COVID-19 is an acute condition, meaning that it’s severe and sudden and the symptoms generally have a onset 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. COVID-19 symptoms usually last for about 10 to 14 days.

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