The Emotional Toll of the Loss of Smell

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The Emotional Toll of the Loss of Smell

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When weighing the various outcomes of contracting Covid-19, the loss of smell seemed rather low on the list. Smell always ranked rather low in the hierarchy of the five senses. Sense of smell was always the go to answer in the childhood ice breaker “if you had to lose one of your five senses, which would you choose and why?” The lowly sense of smell seemed the least important. And in the Covid-19 experience, this strange symptom seemed to pale in comparison with being put on a ventilator, going in a coma, or losing one’s life. However, this article on the emotional impact of losing one’s sense of smell is a reminder that the aftermath of Covid-19, and the very ability to smell, is more complicated than one could imagine. As numerous survivors attest, the loss of smell is disorienting and depressing. It is not simply the inability to taste food, or coping with ordinary smells that are now offensive. Scents are tied to our memories, and many survivors relate losing their sense of smell to losing their sense of self. As this article explains, many survivors are turning to smell training in hopes of regaining a part of themselves that many of us never gave a second thought to prior to this pandemic.

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This item was submitted on February 5, 2021 by Kathryn Jue using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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