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Home > Your Services > Post COVID-19 (Long Covid) > Loss of smell or taste

An impaired sense of smell affects from about 30 to 75 percent of people infected with COVID-19 according to a recent estimate, suggesting that millions of people worldwide have suffered this condition at some point in the past two years. Although smell and taste abnormalities have been extensively studied for diagnostic value in COVID-19, little is known about their clinical course, with inconsistent evidence on the duration of recovery based on narrative reviews. Some people find that foods smell or taste differently after having COVID-19, and food may taste bland, salty, sweet or metallic. Although in most cases these changes can be temporary, they can affect your appetite and your enjoyment of food. For some people however, a change in sense of smell or taste may be more long term. Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting when your smell and/or taste will return, as this seems to present differently for different people.

Research is still underway into loss of smell and taste, and there is no obvious treatment right now. Some people have found that a process called ‘smell retraining’ may be helpful. This is a process that involves sniffing different odours over a period of months, with the idea of ’retraining the brain’ to recognise different smells. The benefit of this is that it is cheap, simple and easy to do, but requires some commitment to do it regularly. Unlike medications such as steroid nasal sprays, it’s also free from potential side effects.

Your clinician will assess your symptoms over the phone during your assessment and make some personal recommendations, but in the meantime here are some smell retraining resources you may find useful to take a look at:

Fifth Sense Smell Training


COVID Aid Charity – Smell loss

You might also find the following page useful to read:

Your COVID Recovery – Taste and smell

Last Updated: Thursday 16th March 2023 - 12:00:pm

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