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Coronavirus Destroys Sense of Smell Heres Why

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are pretty well known, and include things like fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. But you might have heard that another symptom of coronavirus is losing your sense of smell. How could that be? What is the link between coronavirus and smell?

In this article, I’ll explain why you might lose your sense of smell when you have an infection, and I’ll teach you why zinc is so vitally important.

I will cover:

Woman with blue clothespin clipped on her nose, can’t smell, lost sense of smell.

Is the loss of smell a symptom of coronavirus?

The typical symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat

But recently, there has been an observation that there may be an additional symptom of COVID-19: loss of smell.

Many people have found that when they got the virus, they lost their sense of smell.

Red and white blocks with letters spelling coronavirus and 2019 COVID-19, crossword pattern.

The medical name for loss of smell is anosmia. More and more, this is being seen as an additional, common symptom of coronavirus infection. Some people also are getting a loss of taste, where everything just tastes like cardboard.

But why would this be? Why would you lose your sense of smell with the coronavirus?


Coronavirus and smell loss – what’s the link?

Losing a sense of smell or taste may seem like a strange, random symptom of COVID-19. But there actually might be some interesting logic as to why this occurs and why smell and taste are involved in the infection.

I believe that smell loss as a symptom of the coronavirus is linked to a zinc deficiency.

Let’s go into this further, exploring why this may be the case.


The role of zinc deficiency in loss of smell

One of the main symptoms of a zinc deficiency is the loss of smell and loss of taste.

It turns out that a certain enzyme that is involved in our perception of smell and taste (carbonic anhydrase 6) is zinc-dependent. This means that the enzyme can’t do its job in the absence of zinc. So when we are zinc deficient, we can lose our sense of smell and taste.

You can order a zinc test online to determine if you are deficient, and this test relies on your sense of taste. You put a little bit of zinc in your mouth (which should taste very metallic), and if you can’t taste anything that tells you that you are zinc deficient. On the other hand, if you do taste the metallic taste, you have enough zinc in your body.

Clearly, zinc deficiency and your sense of smell and taste go hand in hand.

Cardboard ripped up to reveal zinc deficiency text written on blue paper.

Common causes of smell loss are linked to zinc

When you do your research and look up the symptom of smell loss, you’ll see a list of several different causes. It turns out that many of those causes are related to zinc and zinc deficiency.

Here are some of the common causes of loss of smell that are related to low levels of zinc:

  • Zinc deficiency
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Nasal polyps
  • Idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (testicles shrinking)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Antibiotics
  • Diabetes
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Cadmium poisoning
  • Kallmann syndrome (genetic condition of hypogonadism)
  • Primary ciliary dyskinesia (a genetic disorder involving sperm dysfunction)

Primary ciliary dyskinesia (a genetic disorder involving sperm dysfunction)

For example, consider respiratory infections. 16% of pneumonia cases are caused by zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency can also cause hypogonadism. High levels of sugar in the blood (diabetes) will deplete your zinc levels.

Oftentimes, correcting a zinc deficiency by taking zinc can reverse the loss of smell.

Losing your sense of smell could potentially all come down to a zinc deficiency – and this may well be the case with COVID-19.

When you have an infection, you deplete your zinc levels

Woman with infection and sickness symptoms coughing, chilled, fever, in bed.

Zinc plays a major role in your immune system. In fact, zinc is one of the key protectors of the immune system, with the purpose of protecting you against microbes and viruses.

Because it is so important, when we get sick and are infected we use up a lot of our zinc. This is especially true of infections involving your lungs (like the coronavirus). Zinc isn’t stored very well in the body, so when our bodies are going through it quickly trying to fight off an infection, we can end up with a zinc deficiency pretty easily.

And as a result, we could end up with the symptom of smell loss.

So here’s what I think is really going on with this seemingly strange symptom of COVID-19:

  • When you get an infection, you become zinc deficient.
  • Zinc is needed for the enzyme involved in your perception of taste and smell. A common symptom of zinc deficiency is the loss of smell and taste.
  • Because you are low in zinc, you aren’t able to smell or taste properly.

See how it all adds up?


Key takeaways to remember

The information I shared above explains why our sense of smell is linked to zinc levels in the body, and why there might be a link between coronavirus and smell.

Zinc is vitally important for our sense of smell and also for our immune health and protecting ourselves against infection.

By replenishing zinc levels in our body, you may be able to improve your sense of smell and improve the strength of your immune system at the same time.

And remember, if you already have an infection – whether that is COVID-19 or another – you probably are already becoming zinc deficient. You need to replenish your zinc levels and avoid deficiency if you want to protect your body, enhance your immune system, and decrease the duration of your sickness.

Woman’s body shape with green shield, immune system concept surrounded by microbes and pathogens.

Learn more about the importance of zinc in fighting the coronavirus and boosting your immune system here:

What are your thoughts on this interesting symptom of the coronavirus? Share your questions and comments with me below.

Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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