First off, sorry. It’s a pretty common – and absolutely zero fun – phenomenon. Around 37% of people who test positive for COVID report losing their sense of taste. It’s also more common in females.
(Fun fact: this is thought to be because females are more sensitive to taste than males and so have more sensory capacity to lose.)
Now, taste and smell can get better within 4 weeks of the virus being shown its marching orders from your body. BUT it can sometimes take months for things to fully improve. So, what to try? See if my tips, below, can help.
- Try sour flavours – Tart or sour foods can stimulate your taste buds (when this happens, messages are sent via nerves to your brain, where you can detect what a specific taste is – so, sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami.) Add more citrus flavours, like a squeeze of lemon juice over a pasta sauce or half a lime with your Thai green curry, and see if this helps.
- Brush your teeth before you eat – Making sure that your mouth is clean before eating can help you to taste your food better. Try brushing your teeth 10 minutes before a meal, and gently brush your tongue, to remove excess tongue film (which includes microbes and their metabolites).
- Stay hydrated – As ever – but a dry mouth can hinder your ability to taste. Drink big glasses of water between meals and sip as you eat.
- Taste test! – Try purposefully eating foods with strong flavours and try to identify them. Something like chocolate for sweet, citrus for sour, coffee for bitter and cheese for salty.
And remember: If you’re losing weight unintentionally (>5% BW), make sure you check in with your healthcare team, because certain types of weight loss can be inflammatory and could make things worse.
Image: Cooper et. al.