Covid-19: Study shows why loss of smell continues even after recovery

Loss of smell if one of the most common symptoms of Covid-19. Now, a study has revealed why some people fail to fully regain their sense of smell even after recovering from Covid-19.
Covid loss of smell
Struggling with loss of smell even after Covid-19 recovery? Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 3 Jan 2023, 16:30 pm IST
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Covid-19 has hit the headlines once again. As cases continue to grow in China, multiple researchers are trying to find out more about the symptoms. They are trying to figure out how Covid-19 affects people in the long run. Loss of smell has been one of the most common symptoms that people who tested positive for Covid-19 faced. Now, a new study has provided an insight into why some people don’t fully regain their sense of smell even months after recovering from Covid-19. The researchers found that it is connected to an ongoing immune assault on olfactory nerve cells and an associated reduction in the number of those cells.

A team of researchers from Harvard, Duke and the University of California-San Diego looked at the olfactory epithelial samples that were collected from 24 biopsies. They included nine patients who suffered from long-term smell loss, also called anosmia, after Covid-19 infection.

sense of smell
Loss of smell is a common symptom of Covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Loss of smell continues in some people even after recovering from Covid-19

Senior author Bradley Goldstein, associate professor in Duke’s Department of Head and Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences, says that one of the first symptoms that have usually been linked with Covid-19 infection is “loss of smell“. He notes that many people whose sense of smell is affected during the infection, will recover within the next one to two weeks. But there are some people who do not fully regain their sense of smell.

In the study, published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers wanted to investigate the olfactory epithelium, which is the tissue in the nose where olfactory nerve cells are located, in people with smell loss for a long term.

The researchers found infiltration of T cells that were involved in an inflammatory response in the olfactory epithelium. And this inflammatory process continued despite the absence of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.

It was also found that the number of olfactory sensory neurons went down. It was possibly due to damage of the delicate tissue from the ongoing inflammation.

People with Covid-19 may be more likely to develop new health conditions

After recovering from Covid-19, life doesn’t always go back to normal. At least not for everyone. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people, especially those who had severe Covid-19, face multi-organ effects or autoimmune conditions with symptoms that last for weeks, months, or even years after getting infected by Covid-19.

Covid-19 end
People who had Covid-19 may end up with new health conditions. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Multi-organ effects can involve lungs, heart, kidney, brain and even skin. As a result of these effects, people who have had Covid-19 may be more likely to develop the following health conditions –

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• Diabetes
• Heart conditions
• Blood clots
• Neurological conditions

Symptoms you can have after Covid-19 infection

Most people with coronavirus make a full recovery within 12 weeks, but for some, symptoms can last longer, as per the UK National Health Service.

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Some post Covid-19 symptoms may include

•  Memory and concentration issue.
•  Chest pain or tightness.
•  Difficulty in sleeping.
•  Depression and anxiety
• Cough, headaches, sore throat, and changes to sense of smell or taste.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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