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Long haulers suffer long-term coronavirus symptoms

COVID-19 can present an array of symptoms, often the longest lasting, the loss of taste and smell
Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 5:48 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of COVID-19 is the loss or distortion in ability to smell and taste.

“I was drinking my tea and all of a sudden I was like, I cannot smell this and I cannot taste this,” says Megan Reck, Eau Claire resident.

“After having my shower, went to put my mist on and it didn’t have much smell, I couldn’t smell anything and I go uh-oh now it’s here for me too,” says Pat Thompson, La Crosse resident.

A study published in January by the Journal of Internal Medicine revealed olfactory dysfunction (OD) was most common in mild cases of COVID-19, affecting 85% of patients.

Thompson tested positive for the virus September 28th, since then she notes only a handful of times having her sense of smell or taste back, nearly five months later.

“Maybe it’s coming, you know I don’t know the taste is probably the most—you know that obviously I miss the most because everything tastes the same,” says Thompson.

Reck says she contracted COVID-19 in October, she has her taste back, but only to a degree.

“Particularly pork and beef has a very strange smell, it doesn’t taste bad but it smells bad to me, almost like it’s burnt or sour,” says Reck.

Developing an aversion to some smells.

“There’s some strong smells that I don’t pick up on like bleach, I can pour bleach in with the laundry and I cannot smell it at all,” says Reck.

Dr. Matthew Brookes, ear, nose and throat specialist at Marshfield Medical Center - Eau Claire says smell therapies are the best way to retrain the senses.

“Essential oils or shampoo or certain foods, something like that and try to expose yourself more often to that with the understanding and knowledge that you have to think about what you’re smelling,” says Brookes. “You have to retrain your nerves and your brain to reconnect that to your memory of what it used to smell like.”

Thompson and Reck say the lingering symptoms are an inconvenience, but remain grateful for a healthy recovery.

“I guess maybe the way I look at it is like God’s way of saying alright well you shouldn’t eat these certain foods or you shouldn’t drink that caffeine anymore,” laughs Reck.

“Yesterday, I think for the first time I got a whiff of rosebud,” smiles Thompson.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

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