Covid caused loss of taste and smell? You might have your gender and gene to blame
Loss of taste and smell in Covid-19 is one of the most commonly reported symptoms. A study has highlighted the possible reasons behind this.
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Loss of taste and smell were common symptoms reported during the first and second wave of Covid-19 in India. This was one of the distinct symptoms of the Delta variant. Not being able to taste or smell something is a weird feeling indeed. Now, this symptom is absent in the Omicron variant. But there was no clarity on why there was a loss of taste and smell in Covid 1.0 and 2.0.
A study published in Nature Genetics on January 17 revealed a few details about the mechanism behind the loss of taste and smell during Covid.
The study compared individuals who reported loss of taste and smell during Covid-19 infection to those who did not. The authors highlighted that around 68% of Covid positive cases reported loss of taste and smell.
Here are 5 important points to note from the study.
1. WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE
The study revealed that more women participants reported losing taste and smell than men. Out of all the female respondents, 70% have reported loss of taste and smell during Covid-19 infection. On the other hand, only 61% of male participants reported loss of taste and smell.
2. SIMILARLY, YOUNGSTERS TOO
Another interesting insight that the study threw up is that more young people reported loss of taste and smell. Those who experienced loss of taste and smell were younger than those without this symptom. The average age for those with the loss of smell or taste is 41 years.
Illustration: Seemon, DailyO
3. GENETICS PLAY A ROLE
Yes, after gender and age, your genes too are responsible. The study revealed that individuals of East Asian or African American ancestry are less likely to report loss of smell and taste. The report also notes the study is biased toward people of European ancestry because of limited reference data.
4. DAMAGE TO THE OLFACTORY EPITHELIUM AND CILIA, A POSSIBLE CAUSE
Earlier, a study conducted on nasally Covid infected hamsters revealed that there was significant damage caused to the olfactory epithelium (tissue inside the nasal cavity that is involved in smell) and cilia (hair-like structure on the surface of the cells). This damage is actually capable of resulting in a complete loss of smell. Further, it was noted that there was no infection in the olfactory neurons.
A recent study explained that Covid-19 infection enters and accumulates in olfactory support cells. In such a case, olfactory sensation is impaired and essential functions are disrupted.
5. GENERAL ABILITY TO SMELL OR TASTE ALSO MATTERS
Interestingly, the loss of taste and smell depends on your body’s natural ability to smell and taste. You might know someone who has heightened smell or taste. Well, such individuals are more prone to loss of these senses during Covid-19 infection.