Can we recognize the taste with smell?

Long-term consequences of Covid-19 How do the senses of smell and taste come back?

Strong smells don't help

Harz cheese or rotten eggs - although these are strong smells, unfortunately I can't use them to train my sensory cells in my nose and mouth, says Kathrin Ohla. She is the head of the "Cognitive Neurophysiology" working group at Forschungszentrum Jülich: "Smell training is not helpful in the early phase, but it doesn't do any harm either."

After looking at the first studies, Ohla says that the sense of smell and taste came back in about half of the respondents after a month. "You don't have to do anything for that, except be patient. There is no effective therapy and no drug that can actually be recommended to date," says Ohla.

Permanent damage possible

With a normal cold, our nose swells up and we can no longer smell it. Corona works differently: "The virus actually affects the olfactory cells, or rather cells that support our olfactory cells. It disrupts and destroys these cells." As a result, the cells in the nose and on the tongue could no longer recognize stimulation - we no longer smell or taste anything.

If our olfactory cells are destroyed, it can actually happen that we become permanently anosmic, i.e. odor-blind.

Kathrin Ohla, psychologist and head of the "Cognitive Neurophysiology" working group at Forschungszentrum Jülich

However, our cells could also regenerate. So there is hope that the sense of smell can be restored even after a few months. But that's all "hopefully" very rare, says Ohla. So far, there is simply not enough data on forecasts and case numbers to make meaningful statements.

An international team of 20 clinically active olfactory experts believes that special training can help your sense of smell get on the jumps again. You are currently conducting studies with Covid 19 patients. During this kind of training, those affected smell four different scents twice a day for 20 seconds each. The training ensures adaptations both in the olfactory mucosa and in the brain. Smell perception usually improves after around three months, say the researchers.