As vaccinations continue COVID-19 cases have been on a downward trend nationally. However, some patients who survive COVID-19 infection are reporting long-term health complications that are impacting their quality of life. Brain fog, fatigue and continuing problems with the sense of smell are among the concerns.
A National Library of Medicine study shows that 24 percent of surviving COVID-19 patients still can’t fully smell or taste seven months after recovering from the virus. Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD, director of the University of Cincinnati Division of Rhinology, Allergy and Anterior Skull Base Surgery, says the majority of COVID-19 patients regain their sense of small, but he’s also seen a new trend.
“That huge peak, that huge wave of infected patients over the wintertime they were recovering their sense of smell now a few months after that they’re starting to experience these parosmia’s,” Dr. Sedaghat said.
Parosmia is experiencing distorted or foul odors even while smelling pleasant things like flowers, explains Sedaghat. He adds that parosmia is a good sign because it means nerves are in recovery mode, but right now, the only proven treatment is smell tests to retrain the brain.
“It’s more than the action of smelling things. You have to think about what those things used to smell like, because you actually want to activate your memory centers, and those activated nerves tend to reconnect,” Dr. Sedaghat said.
Featured image of Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD, taken by Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand.