February 27 is national Anosmia awareness day. Anosmia means loss of sensation of smell.  The goal of Anosmia Awareness Day is to make aware people about olfactory dysfunction and lay stress on the development of successful treatments. It also aims to inform the public about the serious impact that anosmia can have on a person’s life.  Usually, people suffering from Anosmia face difficulty with eating as there is close relationship between smell and taste. As the world is facing the pandemic, today we are going to talk about one of the symptoms of COVID-19, i.e Anosmia.  Anosmia is one of the symptom patients struggle with during COVID-19 recovery phase.

People who suffer with Anosmia can develop stress due to multiple reasons. They might not enjoy food as they were enjoying it before. That might cause loss of interest in consuming meals. People do develop Parasomnia,  during COVID-19 recovery phase, where a person might smell unwanted odor for a particular thing. All these factors affect the health of the person. In addition to that they will develop stress which affects overall body, especially digestion. Stress impairs secretion of enzymes and mucus in the body which impairs digestion. When digestion is impaired, person will develop conditions like constipation, GERD, gut issues and other Pelvic floor issues etc, which will affect the immunity of a person which will impair an individual’s recovery from covid-19. When the person is stressed, body develops “fight or flight” response which is controlled by sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous signals adrenal gland to secrete cortisol and epinephrine which regulate stress.

How coronavirus affects the sense of smell?

Coronavirus infects the sub tentacular cells in the nasal cavity. The sub tentacular cells serves as support frame for the surrounding nerve cells. An immunological response (inflammation) is developed by body to fight against the virus. The inflammation injures the surrounding nerve cells. These nerve cells transmit signals to the olfactory bulb to the brain, which processes and identifies smell. Injury to these pathways, to the nerve cells, and to supporting cells may explain the loss of sense of smell.

The affected Olfactory nerve cells may regenerate, but they may not regenerate accurately or completely. Nervous system undergoes trial and error mechanism to re-establish connection to the brain. Faulty re-wiring can explain why some patients develop the condition parosmia, where patient may detect some odd odor for a particular substance.

As we are all aware that COVID-19 virus affects multiple body systems, it affects the lung function and that affects the recovery of patients. Breathing exercises are effective in post Covid-19 recovery as it increases the lung capacity and helps restore diaphragm function. In our second blog of this month, we will talk about different breathing exercises which help in recovering from COVID-19.

Although COVID-19 of the respiratory system appears to be a complex disease that may resist finding a single silver bullet intervention, these observations provide promising avenues to pursue. This review summarizes much of the known data on COVID-19–induced disorders of the respiratory system, offering researchers and clinicians an early and rough sketch of the challenges that confront us.