Complaints such as shortness of breath, respiratory distress, cough and fever are observed in a significant proportion of patients with severe coronavirus. But according to different case data evaluated in the world; Two-thirds of the patients with the disease develop smell and taste problems. In general, odor and taste problems are more common in women than men. In some patients, smell and taste problems may be the only complaint of Covid-19 disease. Professor of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Memorial Antalya Hospital. Dr. Mustafa Asım Şafak gave information about the taste and smell problems seen in Covid-19.
Seen at 75%
Smell problems are generally one of the common complaints in upper respiratory tract infections. As a result of nasal congestion, the smell of patients decreases. However, the rates of smell problems seen in Covid-19 disease are approximately 3-4 times higher than those seen in influenza infections. However, the incidence of smell discomfort due to Covid-19 increased from 33,9% in the first studies to 75% in recent studies.
It can continue for months
Smell disorders; It is the first, sudden onset and most prominent complaint of Covid-19 disease. Problems with smell start on the 4th day of the disease, continue for about 9 days and usually resolve within 1 month at the latest. Odor and taste problems can persist for much longer periods of time, for months. This may indicate more severe brain and brainstem involvement in cases where the complaints last a long time. In addition, the duration of odor and taste problems may be directly related to the course of the disease. In fact, the presence of long-lasting odor and taste problems may become an important determining factor for the follow-up of the disease.
The virus spreads inside the brain, affecting the sense of smell and taste
The mechanisms that lead to smell and taste disorders have not been fully elucidated yet. Studies have shown that the virus that causes Covid-19 disease has a higher tendency to cling to the nose and throat area. Anatomically, the olfactory nerve can be seen as an extension of the brain. It spreads into the nose by passing through a very thin and perforated bone structure between the nose and the brain. Due to this feature, when the SARS-CoV-2 virus reaches the upper respiratory tract, it can spread directly into the brain by attaching to the olfactory nerve.
The smell disorder brings along the loss of sense of taste.
The sense of taste is closely related to the sense of smell. In general, the majority of patients with smell disorders also experience a decrease in their sense of taste. In studies using artificial intelligence technologies, the rate of smell and taste problems in Covid-19 patients is approximately 30 times higher than in people who are not sick. In the advanced stages of the disease, there are odor and taste problems other than other neurological symptoms. The damage caused by the virus in the brain is seen in two main ways. The first is brain damage due to severe pneumonia and hypoxia, and the second is coagulation in small vessels. In this type of brain involvement, more serious neurological problems occur, other than smell and taste perception, leading to coma. It is also thought that odor and taste problems in Covid-19 patients may be related to genetic predisposition.
Special tests detect loss of smell and taste
Investigation of odor problems in patients is carried out by questioning or interviewing patients, and by asking the patient in person. Very few odor problem studies have been conducted with more objective "olfactory tests". Odor problems detected when done with olfactory tests are much more than those detected by simply asking the patient about the odor complaint. In other words, some of the patients are not even aware of the odor problem. Smell tests show that the problem of smell in Covid-19 patients is very high, like 98%.
Pay attention to these in order to prevent the loss of taste and smell for a long time;
- It is important to detect the coronavirus as soon as possible and to start treatment as soon as possible.
- The use of blood thinners that prevent blood clotting should be continued for a few months even if the general complaints of the disease have improved.
- It is recommended to use other vitamin and mineral supplements along with B-complex vitamins.
- It is very important to perform a mechanical nasal cleansing with frequent saline or a similar concentration of saline solution.
- In case of long loss of taste and smell, consult a doctor.