Scientists work to figure out how genetics could impact COVID long haulers' taste, smell loss

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Posted at 3:31 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 17:29:39-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – For many people across the country, COVID-19 caused their taste or smell to change. Some people lost their sense of smell completely, and others say it has been impacted on some level.

News 3 reporter Margaret Kavanagh said months after getting COVID-19, her sense smell has not returned to what it once was.

Delainne Bond said she has long COVID, which involved heart and vision problems, among other things, months after getting sick. She also believes that she had COVID-19 multiple times.

News 3 spoke to her about a year ago after she started COVID Care Group, an online support group for long haulers.

"Long haulers," as they are known, are those who suffer from symptoms weeks or months after getting COVID-19.

In the beginning of 2021, the online group had 2,500 members. Now, they have more than 70,000 followers.

“I continue to grow anywhere between 1,200 and 1,900 new members weekly from people around the world,” said Bond.

She said she shares her experiences and helps people with questions or concerns. She added that some people are terrified and scared.

A new study found that a genetic risk factor could make some people more susceptible to losing their taste or smell.

The study was published just Tuesday in the journal Nature Genetics.

“We all have our own DNA footprint, and we’re all unique, so you’re one in 1 billion,” said Dr. Ryan Light with the Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group. He said your genetics plays a role in how you fight off viruses.

Scientists around the world continue to study COVID and the impacts it has on the body.

“We’re just trying to find what is causing it because if we can find what’s causing it, then it’s easier to treat,” said Dr. Light.

Dr. Light says in most cases, people get their taste and smell back. But it is unclear exactly why this impacts certain people.

The medical community is working to figure out more about why some people are more affected by COVID than others.

“This looks like a tornado - some houses on the street get hit really hard; some look like they had no damage,” said Dr. Light.

Long hauler symptoms can be a wide range of things like loss of hair, vision issues, heart problems, breathing problems or even brain fog.

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