MIT Medical answers your COVID-19 questions. Got a question about COVID-19? Send it to us at CovidQ@mit.edu, and we’ll do our best to provide an answer.
I tested positive for COVID-19 in October. My only symptoms were congestion and loss of smell and taste. It is now three weeks later. I still have no sense of smell or taste. When can I expect to get these senses back? And am I still contagious?
Partial or complete loss of the sense of smell (anosmia), often accompanied by loss of taste (ageusia), is one of the most predictive and pervasive symptoms of COVID-19. And based on your own experience, you will probably not be surprised that multiple studies, including a CDC study published at the end of July, have also shown alterations in the senses of taste and smell to be the longest lasting symptoms of all.
In addition to the CDC study, a study of 53 Italian patients, as well as a much larger European study, found many individuals reporting absent or diminished senses of taste and/or smell persisting long after other symptoms had resolved. But, reassuringly, most people appear to regain these senses eventually. In a study of 54 French patients with COVID-related anosmia, all but one recovered their sense of smell within 28 days.
So, hang in there! While the Thanksgiving turkey may taste even more like cardboard this year, it’s likely you’ll be able to smell and taste again by the time your relatives start sending you holiday fruitcakes.
And, no, according to CDC guidelines, you are no longer considered contagious. It’s not unusual for some symptoms to persist — people often have a cough, feel unusually fatigued, or even experience some shortness of breath for several weeks after a mild to moderate case of COVID-19. But as long as it’s been more than 10 days since your symptoms began, and you have been fever free for at least 24 hours (without taking fever-reducing medications), you should feel free to end your period of isolation and resume your normal activities.