“There is a risk that the sense of smell will never return after Covid-19”. This question comes from journalist André Fran, who was infected with the virus last August and already fears reaching the one-year mark with the sequel. At the time, Fran had taken both doses of the vaccine and was therefore showing mild symptoms of the disease. However, some sequelae of the coronavirus have persisted to this day, such as the loss of smell. According to him, the scents he still smells seem “distorted” from what he once smelled.
“The symptoms I had were fever and influenza. It was three or four days at the most, it was quite mild. The symptom of loss of smell and taste followed and continues to this day. Taste came back I would say around 90%, while smell only came back 3% – and even then it was very distorted. I only smell a few smells, the very strong ones, and even then with distortion,” he said. UOL.
Fran made the report via Twitter and received a series of replies from other followers who are also facing the same aftermath after being infected with covid-19.
“Talking to some people and doing some research I started to smell stronger aromas like coffee, honey, toothpaste. I’ve been insisting on it and I don’t have a lot of results, no,” he said.
There have been reports of those being odor free since 2020 as before the pandemic.
Inability to smell odors (anosmia) is a common symptom of covid-19 and occurs in approximately 86% of patients with mild cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus. A survey conducted by French and Canadian scientists analyzed the duration of loss of smell in 97 people who had had covid.
In the group that underwent clinical evaluation, 84% of participants regained their sense of smell four months after infection with the coronavirus, and after a year, only two people remained with an impaired ability to smell.
According to Feres Chaddad, neurosurgeon, professor and head of neurosurgery discipline at Unifep (Federal University of São Paulo) and head of neurosurgery at BP (Beneficência Portuguesa de São Paulo), it is still not possible to identify the cause of loss of smell after infection with covid-19.
“Such manifestations in covid-19 still remain with gaps in the understanding of both the clinical spectrum and the possibilities of treatments. Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can affect the nervous system and, through this , compromising several functions, such as smell and taste,” he says.
Chaddad explains that the virus is able to affect the olfactory nerve, responsible for transmitting the smells we smell to the brain. “This structure has a direct link with the central nervous system. Moreover, the variability of the clinical spectrum in covid-19 is large and certainly defined by the biological characteristics, both viral, cellular and molecular of the patients. Therefore, Symptoms and reports can vary a lot between different infected people.”
Estimates indicate that around 50% of patients diagnosed with the virus have had neurological problems after infection, including a loss of sense of smell. In addition, it is recurrent that survivors of covid-19 have long-term sequelae.
“The spectrum of neurological syndromes associated with Covid-19 includes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), anosmia (loss of sense of smell), acroparesthesia (tingling sensation), aneurysm, stroke (stroke) or encephalic (CVA), Guillain-Barré syndrome and several other associated diseases”, he specifies.
“In addition to the symptoms of the initial phase of the disease, patients who had no initial complications or comorbidities during the infection began to experience, months later, severe manifestations of disorientation, loss memory and critical neurological conditions. The impact of the virus on the nervous system can be far greater and more devastating than the impact on the lungs.”
However, the doctor reports that, in the case of anosmiathe olfactory nerve has a “considerable regenerative capacity”, which indicates a spontaneous improvement in the sense of smell, “more or less over time”.
In most cases, recovery of the sense of smell occurs within the first two weeks. However, it is still not possible to identify when there is a cure in persistent cases. “There are still no conclusive studies on the recovery time of those left with long-term changes in smell,” he says.
Chaddad also warns that if the patient experiences a re-infection, the problem may recur. Even with the vaccine, essential to combat the most serious state of the disease, the loss of the sense of smell is not excluded as part of the symptoms.
“The primary function of the vaccine is to prevent severe manifestations of the disease. Thus, the objective is to initiate an effective response of our organism to these antigens. It is like an “immunological memory” which will stimulate the production of antibodies when our immune system is attacked by infectious agents. The vaccine prevents infection and severe cases, but this does not apply to the occurrence of either symptom, especially since each body produces a different immune response to the vaccine and also reacts differently to direct contact with the virus.”
For those still dealing with the aftermath of Covid-19, Chaddad advises patients to seek individual medical advice.
“To date, no scientific evidence has been identified for effective treatments for these disorders. Expected recovery of smell or taste occurs within the first two weeks after resolution of the disease, so it is recommended to “Wait for the time to resolve. In case of persistence, an individual assessment is necessary to understand the degree of damage caused by the disease and the appropriate therapeutic measures on a case-by-case basis”, he concludes.