Post-Covid Taste and Smell Problems

Taste and smell changes

You might experience loss of smell following your COVID infection. We do not have prolonged data for COVID patients about the recovery of smell. We know from studies of loss of smell caused by other viruses that sense of smell could return quickly within a couple of weeks while others could take many months to recover. Recovery could sometimes be slow. From what we know so far, about one in ten cases of smell and taste problems continue after COVID infection; we know from other viruses that about one in three people will see the recovery of their sense of smell over three years.

Loss of smell (both good and bad odors) will affect how well you could detect flavors. When we eat, food flavor is a combined experience of smell and taste. We have 5 basic tastes sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and ‘savory’ (known as umami) which are not generally affected when we lose our sense of smell because they are detected with the tongue. Although, there is evidence that in COVID true taste could be affected as well as smell.

What could that mean to me?

You might find your favorite foods taste and smell differently following your COVID disease. Food might taste bland, salty, sweet, or metallic.

These changes are generally short-term but could affect your appetite and how much you eat.

Post-Covid Taste and Smell Problems

How could I improve the taste of food?

  • It is crucial to choose foods that appeal to you to make sure you eat well but continue to retry foods as your taste preferences might change.

  • Keep your mouth clean and healthy by brushing your teeth day and night and rinsing your mouth with water if you feel dry or uncomfortable. Circumvent alcohol-based mouthwashes.

  • If you find cooking smells are affecting your appetite, microwave-ready meals or cold food could be a short-term alternative.

  • Unless you have been given certain suggestions from a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) regarding your swallowing, try experimenting with different flavors, textures, and temperatures of food to see which you find more edible. You might find bland flavors for example plain chicken, fish, tofu, and rice might be easier to eat particularly if you are still feeling nauseated or have an unsettled stomach. Cold or room temperature foods might also be more acceptable.

  • A good protein intake is crucial for your recovery although, high protein foods could take on a bitter or metallic taste. Try marinating meats with sweet/sour marinades to change the flavor and try a variety of protein sources to find the most enjoyable one for you; red meat, poultry, fish, egg, cheese, vegetarian meat options, beans, and pulses.

  • Adding strong flavors to food could help with taste e.g. herbs and sauces, for instance, apple sauce, mint sauce, cranberry sauce, horseradish, mustard, and pickles. Spices could also improve flavor.

  • Sharp/tart flavored foods and drinks such as orange, lemon, lime flavors could be useful in balancing very sweet tastes. Sucking boiled sweets and mints might also help refresh your mouth before and after eating.

  • If foods have a metallic taste, try plastic cutlery in place of metal and use glass cookware.

  • Salty or bitter taste changes might be improved by choosing low salt varieties and adding sweet flavors to food or drink, for example, sweetener, honey, or sugar.

  • If you are having trouble maintaining weight, follow the advice to eat right.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from post covid taste and smell problems, our expert providers at Post Covid Centers will take care of your health and help you recover.

Call 469-545-9983 to book a telehealth appointment for a home check-up.

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