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Millions of people still can't smell or taste after COVID-19

New research shows that about 5% of people who had COVID-19 — roughly 27 million people — still don't have their sense of smell or taste.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Are you still trying to regain your sense of smell after getting COVID-19? You're not alone. In fact, millions of people are still unable to taste or smell anything, even after testing negative and making an otherwise full recovery. 

Let's connect the dots

Roughly 70% of people have contracted the coronavirus at least once, experts say. While symptoms range from a runny nose to a fever for most people, another early sign you had the virus was because you couldn't smell or taste anything. The BA.5 subvariant is the dominant strain of COVID in the U.S. currently, and experts say one of the tell-tale signs of BA.5 is a loss of smell or taste, which was quite common during the delta surge of last year.

COVID-19 and hospitalizations continue to rise across North Carolina, with both numbers going up about 17% in the past two weeks. Mecklenburg County and several Charlotte-area counties are back in the CDC's "high" tier for COVID-19 activity, which calls for indoor mask usage for all people, not just those who are considered high-risk. 

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While most people are able to get their sense of smell back, that's not the case for everyone. A new report from NBC News says 27 million people, that's about 5% of people who have had COVID-19, are still working to regain their sense of smell or taste.

Losing your sense of smell isn't just an inconvenience, it could be deadly. Researchers say the loss of smell has been linked to higher death rates among older adults, and it can have a major impact on your emotional and psychological well-being. 

All hope isn't lost if you still can't smell, though. Researchers say over time, your senses could slowly come back. Experts say more research is needed to understand just how widespread the problem is. 

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