DEAR DR. ROACH: I’m an 82-year-old, very healthy woman. In February 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to appear in North America, I had a viral infection that was relatively mild (a bit of coughing, runny nose, itchy throat) and lasted for a few days only, although I felt tired for a bit longer. One unusual symptom was that I lost my sense of taste and smell. At that time, it was not known that COVID-19 caused this in many people, nor did we have tests to determine if I had COVID-19.
My lack of smell and taste was unusual because I had always had a very acute sense of smell. A few months later, a blood test as part of a study I was in revealed that I had not had the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When I asked why I had not recovered my chemical senses, the reply was that other viruses can cause those symptoms, too.
Almost three years in, I consulted an ENT about something else and asked about my problem. He was quite dismissive, also stating that other viruses can cause a lack of taste and smell, and told me I’d recover them eventually. I asked if after three years with no progress he still thought that was possible, and he responded in the affirmative.