Currently, there are reports of temporary loss of smell or Anosmia in Nigeria amid COVID-19. This very report has been an issue that draws much attention.
Many who have been indoors without moving away from their homes due to the lockdown are now complaining of symptoms associated with COVID-19 – anosmia.
However, the question here is; what is anosmia and what are factors that can make one to lose his or her smell without being affected with COVID-19?
What Is Anosmia?
Anosmia is the medical term that refers to the loss of sense of smell. The sensations of taste and smell are related, so many disorders of the sense of smell are also associated with a decreased sense of taste.
Causes of Anosmia
Causes of loss of sense of smell or anosmia vary and can range from, infections, obstructions in or damage to the nose, to damage to the brain and nervous system in general.
Anosmia may be temporary, as occurs with some infections, or permanent. Irritation to the mucus membranes of the nose from smoking, inhalation of pollutants or toxins, or from infections can affect the ability to perceive smells.
Some loss of sense of smell occurs during normal aging. Sometimes, having a cold, sinus infection, or the flu can result in a decrease in the ability to perceive smells.
Meanwhile, an infection such as COVID-19 has also been reported to cause a loss of the sense of smell or anosmia in Nigeria.
COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.
Most common symptoms includes; fever, dry cough, tiredness, while less common symptoms includes, aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.
Serious symptoms may include: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, loss of speech or movement.
On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.
Treatment and Management
Treatment depends on the cause. If the loss of smell occurs with a cold, allergy, or sinus infection, it typically will clear up on its own in a few days.
You should consult your doctor if the anosmia doesn’t clear up once the cold or allergy symptoms have subsided.
Treatments that may help resolve anosmia caused by nasal irritation include: decongestants, antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, antibiotics, for bacterial infections, reducing exposure to nasal irritants and allergens and cessation of smoking.
Loss of smell caused by nasal obstruction can be treated by removing whatever is obstructing your nasal passage. Also important is that, older people are more susceptible to losing their sense of smell permanently.
There is no treatment currently available for people with congenital (present from birth) anosmia. People with a partial loss of their sense of smell can add concentrated flavouring agents to food to improve their enjoyment.
For safety, people who have lost their sense of smell should maintain fire and natural gas alarms and avoid eating foods past their expiration dates.