It’s been about a year since COVID-19 started rearing its ugly head on the world. Many of us have been at least semi-regularly in lockdown for eight months, and researchers and scientists have been hard at work trying to come up with a vaccine all year. While the world waits with bated breath for a medicinal way to help solve this insane pandemic, we are also slowly finding out the effects this virus can have on the body — and they’re certainly not all short-term.
If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for when it comes to COVID, some basic symptoms are cough, shortness of breath, and fever.
The long-term effects of COVID-19
COVID-19 has been around long enough at this point that we are starting to realize the long-term effects are much more worrisome than we were once faced with. Not to say that a second bout with the virus — which seems to come back with more force in some patients — isn’t a serious issue. That second round of symptoms – assumingly from sitting slightly dormant in a person for a time – has been responsible for many deaths. But COVID has been around long enough now, that we are starting to notice long-term side effects of it, and your senses might be fighting for their lives in the aftermath.
While factors such as height, weight, and presence of a pre-existing condition in the body seem to drastically increase your likelihood of suffering damage from the virus, long-term effects haven’t been sorted for cause quite yet. In all likelihood, they may never be completely understood. But more recently, a trend in patients not being able to recover their senses of taste and smell for extended periods of time has cropped up. Others are reporting drastic changes in taste and smell, including smelling or tasting things very differently than they did before, and in some cases, have even reported a heightened sense of smell. This is leading scientists to wonder even more acutely what parts of the brain are being affected by the virus, and if other senses could be impaired with COVID-19’s longevity.
Breaking down the study
A study published by the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection at the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reports:
It remains unclear whether COVID-19 attacks chemosensation through one or many pathophysiological mechanisms, or whether specific smell or taste qualities are particularly affected. Similarly, we lack an understanding of how smell, taste, and chemesthesis evolve over the long term in the subset of patients that do not exhibit a quick recovery.
Though the warping of taste and smell may seem like a small price to pay for recovering from such a serious virus, it holds a lot of weight for those still suffering from symptoms. Many reported heightened anxiety due to the inability to smell smoke, gasoline, and other dangerous situations or hazardous chemicals. Changes in taste have led patients to massive changes in consumption behavior, losing and gaining unhealthy amounts of weight while they struggle to maintain their regular senses.
Not to mention the mental health effects of the loss of a sense are astronomical. Taste and smell are both tied to the production of serotonin, the chemical is known to naturally stabilize your mood. When a person gets regulated boosts of serotonin in their system – from experiences involving the senses – feelings of joy and happiness, a reduction in anxiety, and an increase in focus are observed. Feelings of depression, heightened anxiety, and many other symptoms have been continuously observed in patients with COVID. Dealing with it short-term is already harsh enough.
The science community has begun extensive stem cell research on issues the virus is causing long-term. In the meantime, remember to take time to learn about your health and habits so that you can better notice if symptoms are flaring up. Keep your gadgets (and yourself) clean for safety’s sake, practice social distancing, and comply with CDC rules and regulations as much as you possibly can. (If you’re in the midst of your job search, be sure to update your application and your interview expectations to maximize your chances of getting hired.) This virus is proving that it’s not just a “one and done” thing, so until cases start to go down at an enormous rate and we notice a trend in lower numbers, the fight isn’t over.