Loss of sense of smell from COVID-19 caused by damage to brain, study finds


Loss of sense of smell from COVID-19 caused by damage to brain, study finds
People who lose their sense of smell due to COVID-19 may have virus-related brain damage, according to a new study. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI |

COVID-19 causes loss of sense of smell in some of those infected by not only damaging the tissue in the nasal cavity, but also the area of the brain responsible for controlling the senses, a study published Monday by JAMA Neurology found.

Autopsies of 23 patients who died from the virus revealed that those who experienced a loss in their sense of smell had evidence of damage in the white matter of the brain, the researchers said.



The white matter region of the brain plays a key role in communication between cells in the central nervous system, including those that control the senses, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Several of the patients included in this study also had evidence of damage to the brain similar to what is seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease, the autopsies revealed.

“COVID-19 not only affects smell function by infecting the cells lining the nasal cavity, but also causes significant damage on the brain region that controls smell,” study co-author Dr. Cheng-Ying Ho told UPI by email.

“Since the virus does not infect the nerve cells, the tissue degeneration is either caused by inflammation or reduced blood supply due to damaged vessels,” said Ho, an associate professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.



Research suggests nearly 2 million people in the United States have experienced long-term declines in their sense of smell due to COVID-19.

A compromised sense of smell can negatively impact quality of life by reducing appetite, among other problems, according to earlier studies.

About one in 10 people who lose their sense of smell following infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 will experience the symptom for six months or more, research indicates.

After the autopsies, the nasal tissue and brains of these patients were compared to those of 14 others who died from causes not related to the virus, they said.

Five of the 23 COVID-19 patients experienced loss of sense of smell, while four others had “diminished” sense of smell before they died, the researchers said.

Only one of these patients had nasal tissue that tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 at autopsy, according to the researchers, who are currently working on a study “to see if vaccination [against the virus] causes less smell loss and less olfactory tissue damage.”

“I also hope this study may give new ideas about using anti-inflammatory drugs to treat COVID-related smell loss,” Ho said.

2 thoughts on “Loss of sense of smell from COVID-19 caused by damage to brain, study finds

  1. I know so many people who have lost their sense of smell & taste from COVID, it’s not funny. My one GF can’t smell if food is burning on the stove; I know a guy who can’t taste anything but Fireball & now that’s what he drinks … Fireball on the rocks (YUCK). I am SO grateful that I haven’t gotten COVID because I love my senses!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Polly. Thankfully not all people that get Covid lose their sense of taste or smell. The important thing is that Covid is far more serious than the right wing news wants to let people know. Long term Covid has not gotten the coverage it deserves, and it is why even with vaccines it is still important not to catch it. It is also why these parents that are deliberately infecting their kids with Covid instead of getting the vaccine are taking huge risks. Their child could end up with brain damage, scared lungs, damaged heart, and so much more including long term Covid.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.