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How do you treat lingering Covid?

Throughout the pandemic, many people infected with Covid-19 reported that their sense of smell and taste diminished. Some lost their ability to smell altogether (anosmia), others experienced a distortion of their senses of taste or smell (dysgeusia). Whether you’re experiencing anosmia, dysgeusia or both, you may be interested to learn that most people who experience long Covid-19 taste disorders will recover, according to new research published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study involved 328 adults with COVID-19-related long taste disorders. Participants were divided into two groups: those who have a smell and taste disorder as their only long-term post-COVID-19 symptoms (simple post-CoVID-19), and those who have several other long-post-COVID-19 complaints (complex post-CoVID-19). The study also compared these groups to non-COVID-19 patients with similar characteristics.

A distorted sense of smell or taste (dysosmia or dysgeusia) may manifest itself in different ways, and is typically noticed two to three months after a COVID-19 infection. Symptoms of long Covid-19 can affect other parts of the body, too, such as a ringing in the ear (tinnitus), fatigue or memory problems.

Reiter and the other researchers in this study were not able to determine exactly why some people develop a distorted sense of taste or smell, but they suspect it is due to persistent virus infection that triggers inflammation in the olfactory nerves. The scientists also believe that the inflammatory response could alter the cell structure of the taste buds, causing a distortion of olfactory or gustatory perception.

The researchers analyzed blood samples of the patients who participated in the study. They found that those with a distorted sense of taste or smell had higher levels of the inflammatory compound interleukin-6 in their blood. Those with a distorted sense of taste or olfactory perception had also exhibited elevated blood levels of the protein C-reactive protein. The researchers believe this may have influenced the timing of their onset of symptoms, as well as their severity.

Although the researchers acknowledge that their sample size was small, they hope that the results will help to inform future studies of this phenomenon. In particular, they want to determine whether the alterations in blood markers are specific to those with long taste or olfactory disturbances, or whether the changes are broader and more generalized.

While most people who experience long Covid-19 taste disorder will eventually recover, it is important to talk to your health care provider if you’re struggling with any of these long-term symptoms or conditions. Your healthcare professional will be able to assess your symptoms and recommend the best treatments for you.

Jennifer grew tired of smelling like bananas and garlic, but she knew she had to keep trying. She found some comfort in online support groups and discovered that a treatment called stellate ganglion block can help some patients with long Covid-19 taste disorders. Depending on your insurance, these types of procedures can be expensive, so it’s worth checking with your doctor to see what you might be eligible for.

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