Dr. Mike Blaivas Reveals How COVID-19 Really Affects Your Senses - Exclusive

COVID-19 can cause many impactful health effects that can diminish one's quality of life. Among those are the loss of senses people experience, namely the loss of taste and smell. Health Digest caught up with Dr. Mike Blaivas, Chief Medical Officer at Anavasi Diagnostics, in an exclusive interview about why this happens and what people can do about it. 

Dr. Blaivas points out that a loss of these senses are common, however, they may be hard to detect at first. That's because congestion caused by a virus can alter our sense of taste and smell. He explains, "Many are congested during the acute infection period and would not have tasted and smelled well regardless. Additionally, if some are running fevers and having aches all over, they may not eat much and may not notice the loss of smell and taste for several days. Once they are feeling better, if the loss of smell and or taste persist, they will notice food does not have much taste and things don't smell as strongly as they used to and in some cases not at all." 

However, once more severe symptoms subside, Dr. Blaivas says that people may notice their sense of taste and smell is muted, diminished, or otherwise changed. He notes, "The loss of smell and taste does not have to be complete, and it might be an alteration in taste sensation that is noticed. Certain things taste spicy or bitter when they used to taste more sweet or mild before." 

What's behind the loss of smell and taste?

Dr. Blaivas suggests that while we don't know the exact cause of a loss of senses, we have a lot of evidence that the coronavirus has direct effects on certain key nerves that are critical for detecting taste and smell. He tells us, "The exact cause is being debated but current reasoning directs to inflammation of the mucosal tissues in the area responsible for smell and possibly olfactory nerves." Unfortunately, sensory loss can last days, weeks, months, or longer, according to Dr. Blaivas. He points out that while most people eventually regain these senses, a small percentage find taste and smell remain impaired or changed long-term. 

As far as treatment for sensory loss goes, Dr. Blaivas says, "There are some successful documented treatments used in medical studies that include intra-nasal steroids among others. These treatments seem to speed up recovery significantly in some published studies." But in the meantime, Dr. Blaivas suggests some important considerations for sensory loss. "First, you may not be able to smell smoke from fire and the smell associated with natural gas or propane. It may be important to buy sensors for the home to pick up natural gas in the air; people should already have smoke alarms," he states.

Additionally, to combat the mental health effects of prolonged sensory impairment, Dr. Blaivas recommends adding spice and texture to meals, pointing out, "Spices may not be tasted, but you can still feel the burn."

To learn more about Dr. Mike Blaivas, visit Anavasi Diagnostics.