Have you recovered from Covid-19 only to discover that you have yet to regain your lost sense of smell and taste? You are in growing company.
Of the many who have gone through a relatively mild course of the disease, as many as 86% will experience at least partial if not a complete loss of their sense of smell and taste.
The loss of a sense that not only evokes memories and brings pleasure, but also serves as an early warning system for our bodies can be nothing less than devastating.
As human beings we are used to assessing our surroundings through sight, hearing, touch as well as the ability to smell and taste. With two of those major senses disabled, our world can quickly become disorienting, leading to increased levels of anxiety and depression.
As someone who has struggled with this issue for several years now before Covid ever became a thing, I know how it feels. But I also come bearing good news! It turns out that while the effect of losing one’s sense of smell initially appears the same no matter the cause, the chance of a meaningful recovery after the coronavirus is much greater.
This seems to be rooted in the fact that the cells affected by the virus are support cells rather than critical nerve cells. More on that in a little bit.
The information presented in this post has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is not to be considered medical advice and/or treatment. Always consult your physician for assessment and treatment! Please be sure to read the medical disclosure policy here.
* This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase by clicking on an affiliate link, I may earn a small commission at absolutely no additional cost to you. You can view my complete affiliate link policy HERE.
SOME GOOD NEWS ABOUT COVID RELATED LOSS OF SMELL AND TASTE
As mentioned above Covid-19 induced loss of olfactory function like anosmia (complete loss) or hyposmia (partial loss) as well as dysgeusia (loss of taste) is most likely temporary. The latest research shows that most patients will return to their normal baseline in as little as 8 to 28 days. Some may take a little longer to recover, 60 days are not out of the ordinary and some may require a full 6 months. The latter appears to affect about 5% of those with Covid related anosmia.
The second bit of good news is that you do not have to twiddle your thumbs while waiting to get better. You can play an active role in your own recovery. Science has discovered that smell training with various essential oils is a very simple and basic yet powerful tool that can get you back on track smelling the roses in no time.
Finally, you can track your actual progress to determine how well your smell training is working. There are a number of different tools (many of them free) online you can print to document your recovery. I will list all of my favorite resources for you in one convenient place at the bottom of this post.
THE SMELL TRAINING KIT
No, the picture above is not meant to torture but to encourage you! They are some of my all-time favorite things to smell. And for a long time I couldn’t smell them at all. Since my case is considered “idiopathic” – meaning the cause could not be determined, my doctors essentially shrugged their shoulders and told me to come to grips.
That is not in my nature. Determined to regain as much of my lost sense of smell and taste as possible I dove into online research, which finally led me to the discovery of the SMELL TRAINING KIT. Intruiged, I decided to give it a try. After all, there really wasn’t anything to loose, right? I am happy to report that it worked indeed.
The basic principle is easy. Use a set of four different essential oils to retrain your olfactory nerves. That holds true even if you cannot smell a thing initially. The goal is to keep using the smell training kit at least twice or even several times a day every day until a meaningful result can be achieved.
To help you assemble your own smell training kit, I found this useful video from my favorite anosmia website. I will post links to some of the supplies mentioned in this video underneath so you can easily put your own kit together.
And here are the links to the supplies mentioned in the video:
If you have more than one person with loss of smell and taste in your household, be sure to create a separate kit for each one.
As was mentioned in the video, you can substitute your own favorite essential oils. The basic premise of the smell training kit is to reintroduce a variety of scents to encompass: floral, fruity, woodsy, and musky notes. I personally use lavender in my own kit and that is what I listed here for you as well. To learn more about how to buy high-quality essential oils with confidence, be sure to check out my Essential Oil Buying Guide.
If you don’t have thick blotter paper on hand, you can substitute three layers of coffee filter paper cut to size. You can substitute metal jars for glass ones. Those can be purchased on Amazon or even found at some Dollar Tree Stores in the craft section.
To keep track in your smell training progress, consider investing in a smell testing kit.
To make your smell training kit even more fun, I created a few pretty labels for you to print from the FREE Resource Library. Just sign up here and your password is on its way to your inbox.
But don’t limit your smell training to the kit alone. Try to seek out formerly familiar scents throughout the day and challenge yourself by smelling them as much as possible. It may be frustrating at first, but you will be back on track soon!
TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR NOSE
After all, it’s the only one you have! So what does that entail?
It’s important to make sure the mucus membranes in your nose and sinuses stay well moisturized, especially during the dry winter season. Most ear nose and throat doctors suggest keeping nasal passages lubricated by using saline nasal spray, saline spray with xylitol, or nasal lavage with a neti pot.
You should also make sure to keep proper humidity levels in your home. Use a cool-mist humidifier or consider a diffuser for essential oils in your bedroom at night – another way to get some scent even while you sleep. Just make sure that all humidifiers and diffusers are cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis to keep harmful mold at bay.
Stay well hydrated at all times. If you smoke, this is a great time to hang up the habit once and for all!
TAKE TIME FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Losing your sense of smell and taste, even if it turns out to be temporary, can be a significant source of stress. Several studies have linked this loss to higher levels of anxiety and depression, even elevated rates of suicide. Be sure to talk to someone about the impact this loss has on you. It may not always be easy to find a sympathetic ear within your family or even your circle of friends. But there is help in Covid specific anosmia/hyposmia Facebook groups that specifically deal with this subject. This article by heatlth.harvard.edu contains lots of useful tips and strategies to help you cope with the loss of smell and taste. Remember you are not alone in this!!!
ADDITIONAL HELPFUL RESOURCES
Abscent.org – a website filled with useful and practical information to answer any and all questions you may have related to the loss of smell and taste
Monell.org – all the latest research related to the loss of smell and taste, including ongoing studies looking for participants
fifthsense.org.uk – very informative and comprehensive
Losing your sense of smell and taste is unnerving, but I hope this post will be your first step to regaining that loss. When I experienced my first encounter with olfactory dysfunction, I was devastated. Now I know that there is real help and healing and that you can conquer this! Even though I just went through Covid-19 myself and got to relive this loss again, I know that I will regain my “normal” sense of smell and taste with the help of these tools and I know you will too!
I would love to hear your story! Do feel free to share in the comments or drop me a line if you feel it’s too personal.