Until March, when everything started tasting like cardboard, Katherine Hansen had such a keen sense of smell that she could recreate almost any restaurant dish at home without the recipe, just by recalling the scents and flavors.
Then the coronavirus arrived. One of Ms. Hansen’s first symptoms was a loss of smell, and then of taste. Ms. Hansen still cannot taste food, and says she can’t even tolerate chewing it. Now she lives mostly on soups and shakes.
“I’m like someone who loses their eyesight as an adult,” said Ms. Hansen, a realtor who lives outside Seattle. “They know what something should look like. I know what it should taste like, but I can’t get there.”
A diminished sense of smell, called anosmia, has emerged as one of the telltale symptoms of Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. It is the first symptom for some patients, and sometimes the only one. Often accompanied by an inability to taste, anosmia occurs abruptly and dramatically in these patients, almost as if a switch had been flipped.
Most regain their senses of smell and taste after they recover, usually within weeks. But in a minority of patients like Ms. Hansen, the loss persists, and doctors cannot say when or if the senses will return. [Continue reading…]