COVID long-haulers experience loss of taste, smell for months

Some COVID long-haulers who experience symptoms of COVID-19 months after being diagnosed are also experiencing a loss of taste and smell for months.

Jessica Azevedo was a healthy Zumba instructor in Orlando, but in March, just before everything shut down, she traveled to New York and came back with COVID-19.

Now 10 months later, she continues to battle symptoms, including loss of taste.

"Even now it’s still not the same. You taste something and it still doesn’t taste the same. Like the flavor isn’t the same," Azevedo said. 

She's a COVID long-hauler. She says when she first got COVID, she couldn't smell or taste for a month. Then she started having "phantom smells."

"Close to two months after, I was smelling. It almost smelled like rotted dirt or like a basement, rotting soil," Azevedo said.

"I would say probably 80% of the patients that we’re seeing in the clinic are those that have lost their sense of smell from COVID-19," said Dr. Justin Turner, who's the medical director for the Smell and Taste Clinic at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Turner says most COVID patients get their sense of smell and taste back within six weeks. For those who don't, it could take more than a year to get them back. And if their smell or taste is just off, that could be a good sign.

"That’s actually a good thing because that sort of suggests that the brain and the connection between the brain and the olfactory area that senses odor is starting to make new connections," Dr. Turner said.

But some may never get those senses back. 

Azevedo hopes she's on the road to recovery and wants people to know losing your sense of taste and smell is no joke.

"They don’t realize all the long-term effects that this causes. It’s not just something that’s simple and easy to get over."