Odor loss may not occur right away. What we know about the COVID symptom – NBC Chicago

Although it appears loss of smell may have faded from the most common symptoms associated with the virus, health experts say it is still seen in many infections – and for some it may not hit right away.

Chicago’s top doctor said the city continues to see a “wide range of symptoms,” including loss of taste and smell.

The symptom was thought to be less common in earlier iterations of omicron, but it seemed to increase in frequency with some BA.5 cases, which continue to dominate cases even as new versions of the virus emerge. Symptoms were particularly prominent in waves prior to the omicron variant.

“There are indications, for example, with omicron that loss of taste and smell is less common than it was with some of the earlier lines. All of this is also likely impacted by the fact that many more people are vaccinated than they were before,” said Dr. Isaac Ghinai, medical director of the Chicago Department of Public Health which oversees COVID-19 testing and laboratory surveillance, last month.

Yet some people who contract the virus still experience loss of taste and smell, sometimes not before their infection begins.

Brennan Biasotti of Chicago said he started experiencing symptoms last Friday. But it wasn’t until Tuesday morning that he soon realized something had changed.

He licked a chili pepper and was unable to taste or smell anything, only recognizing the level of spice.

“There’s no fun in eating,” he told NBC Chicago. “It’s hard to tell if I’m hungry because I know I won’t be able to taste anything. Also, I have absolutely no desire to cook anything because I know I won’t taste it. ”

And he is not alone.

In July, Elizabeth Simins told NBC News that she had been experiencing symptoms for about a week before the sudden loss of her senses.

The symptom continues to be listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a common sign of COVID.

Here’s what we know so far:

How long can the loss of smell or taste last?

The short answer is: it’s not clear.

Some health experts say the senses could return within a few days to a month or two. Others, however, say it could take longer than a year and the lingering effects could continue well beyond that.

A study cited by the CDC found that the median time for symptom resolution after a positive COVID test is between four and eight days, but for loss of smell, the average time is between eight and 10.5 days. For the taste, it was between four and 10 days.

Yet the symptoms are also listed among the common symptoms of long COVID, with some reporting losing their minds for months after infection.

Dr. Lora Bankova, an allergist and immunologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told NBC News that many will regain their senses within three months, although for some it can take more than a year.

In some cases, people may experience a complete loss of sense of smell or a change in their smell.

Why do people lose their sense of taste or smell?

Although symptoms have been associated with COVID during the pandemic so far, they can also occur with other respiratory illnesses.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “some viruses damage olfactory sensory neurons, the nerves that help you smell.”

“A study suggests [COVID] the virus does not directly damage olfactory sensory neurons,” the clinic’s website states. “Instead, it can affect the cells that support those neurons. Once the infection passes, the olfactory nerve starts functioning properly again.”

In a study published earlier this year by the journal Nature Genetics, researchers found that a genetic risk factor could explain why some experience the symptoms while others do not.

They also noted that the women in the study were more likely to experience a loss of smell or taste than the men. Meanwhile, adults aged 26 to 35 also reported higher incidents.

When could you lose your senses if you have COVID?

Although some, particularly those who contracted COVID earlier in the pandemic, reported experiencing a loss of senses early in their infection, others reported experiencing symptoms well into their infection.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, early symptoms of COVID-19 usually include fatigue, headache, sore throat or fever. Some patients also experience loss of taste or smell as an early or first symptom.

A study by researchers at the University of Southern California found that fever could be the first, along with two other symptoms. He revealed that the first symptoms of COVID-19 are most likely a fever, followed by a cough and muscle aches. Afterwards, those infected will likely experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Unlike other respiratory illnesses such as MERS and SARS, patients with COVID-19 will likely develop nausea and vomiting before diarrhea, the researchers found.

What are the other symptoms of COVID?

According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus include:

– Fever or chills


– Shortness of breath


– Muscle or body pain


-New loss of taste or smell

-Sore throat

– Congestion or runny nose

-Nausea or vomiting


Patients are urged to seek emergency medical attention if they experience:

-Respiratory disorder

– Persistent chest pain or pressure

-New confusion

– Inability to wake up or stay awake

– Pale, gray or blue skin, lips or nail beds

Yet many other symptoms are also associated with the virus. The CDC notes that the list is not exhaustive.

NBC Chicago

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