Long Covid: The complication leading to ‘severe disruption to daily living’

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The characteristic symptom of losing smell and taste was a useful tool for identifying Covid cases.

With many people still not regaining their senses months later, scientists are worried about the mental health consequences of being unable to smell or taste.

They collected testimonies from Covid support groups to gain an understanding of how some of the less studied symptoms have impacted their daily life.

They report: “Our findings suggest altered taste and smell with Covid-19 may lead to severe disruption to daily living that impacts on psychological well-being, physical health, relationships and sense of self.”

There are two different ways in which Covid can influence smell, and taste as a result.

The first is anosmia, the complete loss of smell, which will leave most food tasteless.

The second is parosmia, where smells become distorted, often in unpleasant ways.

This can cause a great deal of disorientation and even trigger the gag reflex.

Some people reported mixtures of these symptoms blurring over time, but both can have very different impacts on your health.

Changes in the ability to taste can have a severe impact on diet.

Anosmia patients reported over eating because they were unable to taste the food.

One person said: “food satisfaction is lacking and I see myself eating more to try to get that satisfied feeling.

“I am gaining weight due to a constant urge to satisfy what can never be satisfied.”

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Other people reported opposite reactions as a result of parosmia.

Another participant described their testimony of suddenly developing parosmia months after recovering from the virus: “Four months into recovery the rancid/metallic taste and smell hit me.

“Since then I cannot eat much. I simply can’t eat enough to workout AND my shortness of breath didn’t help.

“Since then, I’ve been rapidly losing weight and I honestly do not recognise my body.

“This affects me mentally because I don’t like the way I’m starting to look.

“I have to force feed myself to get nutrients and honestly I’ve lost my appetite because of how nasty food tastes and smells.

“I have absolutely no energy and severe fatigue. My eyes are sunken in from malnutrition.”

The social impact of losing these senses was also documented by the researchers.

Social events like drinking parties became unbearable for people who used to enjoy them.

One person described the smell of wine as “like sewage” and another said “The only alcohol I can manage is vodka.”

Many people reported missing the unique scent of their partner, or found the scent replaced with something repulsive that damaged their relationship.

A small number of people reported benefits to the change in their senses.

One found it easier to eat a healthier diet when junk food and vegetables tasted the same.

Another reported feeling less socially inhibited when they could not smell other people.

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