Restoring Smell and Taste After COVID-19

Smelling the Flowers

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One of the earliest COVID-19 symptoms patients may experience is anosmia, or a loss of smell. This symptom often comes with a loss of taste, and in many cases these symptoms usually occur before other common COVID-19 symptoms. One of Cooper’s otolaryngology (head and neck surgeon) experts explains why this happens and how you might be able to resolve it.

“For those with a COVID-19 diagnosis, the loss of taste and smell can happen suddenly,” says Nadeem R. Kolia, MD, Otolaryngologist and Director, Rhinology and Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery at Cooper University Health Care. “Losing these senses can have a negative impact on your quality of life, as these senses have a major influence on your appetite. In some patients, the sense of smell or taste becomes distorted, which can be just as distressing.”

Recent studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that some patients who reported these symptoms were able to smell and taste again within about eight days.  In other cases, however, it took months for some people’s olfactory system, or sense of smell, to recover.

Here are some steps you can take to help you to enjoy eating while you wait for your senses to return:

  • Choose foods with a variety of colors and textures to add variety to your meals.
  • Enhance the flavors of food by using herbs and spices.
  • Add fats to your meals, including cheese, bacon bits, olive oil, or toasted nuts.
  • Avoid meals that combine a lot of ingredients in one pot or pan, such as a casserole. These recipes may dull the flavor of each individual food.

Some videos that have gone viral on social media show people eating charred oranges or biting into raw onions in an effort to restore their sense of smell and taste.

“Although the effectiveness of those specific tactics is not established, olfactory training may be able to help,” says Dr. Kolia. “Although we don’t yet have enough data about olfactory training for COVID-19, one study done in Europe suggested that olfactory training improved the sense of smell and taste after COVID-19.”

This kind of training has been described by some health care providers as physical therapy for your smell system. It can be more tedious than simply eating a charred orange, but the result is often positive.

You can do this training by yourself at home. Gather four essential oils that are familiar to you. Lemon, rose, cloves, and eucalyptus are the four that are recommended and most well studied. Twice a day, sniff each of the four scents for about 15 seconds each. While sniffing, try to picture what each item is used for or imagine how it would normally smell to you.

Olfactory training, which has been used for a long time, may take a few months, but has been proven to improve the sense of smell and taste. To stay motivated, try keeping a scent journal and record each training session to encourage the habit.

“It’s important to remember that these symptoms are usually temporary, so try not to become overwhelmed,” says Dr. Kolia. “If you have persistent smell loss, remember that progress can be slow. Stay committed to your training, and hopefully you’ll be back to enjoying your favorite smells and tastes before you know it.”


Restauración del olfato y el sabor después del COVID-19

Uno de los primeros síntomas de COVID-19 es la anosmia, o la pérdida del olor. Este síntoma a menudo viene con una pérdida de sabor, y por lo general ocurren antes de otros síntomas comunes de COVID-19. Uno de los expertos en otorrinolaringología de Cooper opina por qué sucede esto y cómo podrías resolverlo.

“Para aquellos con un diagnóstico de COVID-19, la pérdida de sabor y olor puede ocurrir repentinamente”, dice Nadeem R. Kolia, MD, Otorrinolaringólogo y Director de Rinología y Cirugía de base de cráneo endoscópico en Cooper University Health Care. “Perder estos sentidos puede tener un impacto negativo en tu calidad de vida, ya que estos sentidos tienen una gran influencia en tu apetito. En algunos pacientes, el sentido del olfato o el gusto se distorsiona, lo que puede ser igual de angustioso”.

Estudios recientes realizados por los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades encontraron que algunos pacientes que reportaron estos síntomas fueron capaces de oler y saborear de nuevo dentro de unos ocho días, pero puede tomar meses para que el sistema olfativo de algunas personas, o sentido del olfato, se recupere.

Estos son algunos pasos que usted puede tomar para ayudarse a disfrutar al comer mientras espera a que sus sentidos regresen:

  • Elija alimentos con una variedad de colores y texturas para agregar variedad a sus comidas.
  • Mejore los sabores de los alimentos mediante el uso de hierbas y especias.
  • Agregue grasas a sus comidas, incluyendo queso, trozos de tocino, aceite de oliva o nueces tostadas.
  • Evite las comidas que combinen muchos ingredientes juntos en una olla o sartén, como una cazuela. Estas recetas pueden oscurecer el sabor de cada alimento individual.

Algunos videos que se han vuelto virales a través de aplicaciones populares de redes sociales muestran a personas comiendo naranjas carbonizadas o mordiendo cebollas crudas en un esfuerzo por restaurar su sentido del olfato y el gusto.

“Aunque no se establece la eficacia de esas tácticas específicas, el entrenamiento olfativo puede ayudar”, dice el Dr. Kolia. “Aunque todavía no tenemos suficientes datos sobre la formación olfativa para el covid-19, un estudio realizado en Europa sugirió que la formación olfativa mejoró el sentido del olfato y el gusto después de COVID-19.”

Este tipo de capacitación ha sido descrita por algunos proveedores de atención médica como fisioterapia para su sistema de olfato. Puede ser más tedioso que simplemente comer una naranja carbonizada, pero el resultado es a menudo positivo.

Usted puede hacer este entrenamiento solo en casa. Reúna cuatro aceites esenciales que le sean familiares. Limón, rosa, clavo de olor y eucalipto son los cuatro que se recomiendan y los mejor estudiados. Dos veces al día, inhale cada uno de los cuatro olores durante unos 15 segundos cada uno. Mientras inhale, trate de imaginar para qué se utiliza cada elemento o imaginar cómo normalmente le olería.


  1. Avatar Bob Booker

    I lost my smell and taste immediately upon contracting Covid19 which was on or about April 12 2020. It took several months before I only partially recovered some of my taste, I would say approximately 40 %. My taste was also altered and some things do not taste the same as they did before. My sense of smell is completely altered and things smell different than they did prior to Covid. Most notably gasoline, bleach, etc. Nothing smells as it once did and I don’t think it will ever come back at this point.
    Something drastically occurred in our brains or olfactory senses to have this much of an effect and I don’t believe that aroma therapy will have any positive affect however, I’ll give it a try.
    Thank you.

  2. Avatar susan M klaslo

    I lost about 80% of my taste and smell several years back due to a virus. Never got it back and somtimes I can’t taste at all!

  3. Avatar Olivia Watkins

    It is overwhelming and discouraging !! I haven’t been able to smell since April 14 2019. It’s super depressing. I can taste only salty, sweet, hot and sour. No flavors. And absolutely zero smell since then. Help!!!!

  4. Avatar Rocco Delareto

    My smell is o.k. But you taste buds are like eating a mouth full of salt. I was diagonested with COVID 19 in early Dec. my after affects are still the same.can this program still work.even though my smell is o.k. Thank you

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