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‘Long hauler’ long-term effects: When will taste & smell return?

‘Long hauler’ long-term effects: When will taste & smell return?
Published: May. 12, 2021 at 6:25 PM CDT
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - A Kentucky woman’s COVID-19 illness has turned into a nearly 6-month-long battle. Her sense of smell is still not normal.

Many other COVID-19 long-haulers are experiencing the same thing.

If a person could turn off her sense of smell, Carla Miller probably would. She contracted COVID back in December.

“What I smell is almost like a meat that’s decaying. It’s a terrible smell, and I smell it all the time,” said Miller.

She is what healthcare professionals call a “long-hauler”, meaning some of her COVID-19 symptoms didn’t go away.

“At this point, I can’t smell or taste anything other than this,” said Miller.

Doctors say the virus affects the nerves going from your nose and mouth up to your brain. It injures those nerves. It takes some people’s nerves a longer time to heal.

With no clear answers on how to regain your senses, healthcare leaders are asking people to be patient.

“I know that they’re working vigorously and sharing information, which might decrease that some, and we might get some answers quicker,” said Athena Minor, the Chief Nursing and Clinical Officer with Ohio County Healthcare.

Doctors say most people that have long-term symptoms, do get better over time.

“I think it’s always worthwhile to talk to your primary care provider about any problems you’re having,” stated Dr. Scott Black, the Medical Director of Cardiac Rehab with Owensboro Health.

Doctors say many of the at-home remedies claiming to help people regain their senses are unproven.

“My granddaughter gave me some of her essential oils, and I tried those at night. You can’t really smell; like I had peppermint as one of them. You can’t really smell the mint, but I kind of can tell that they’re different scents,” explained Miller.

To prevent yourself from losing your senses, doctors say it’s best to get vaccinated.

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