TAMPA, Fla. - For some, losing taste and smell may be one of the only symptoms you experience after getting COVID-19. One local woman discovered that in an unusual way.
After noticing she couldn't smell or taste anymore, Megan McKee posted video to share with her friends on social media, showing her testing her failing senses by trying swigs of alcohol
“I thought if anything was going to do it -- alcohol tends to kind of burn and you get really, really strong taste -- so I thought, I don't really drink at the house by myself, and I thought, ‘Let me just try this,’” she explained.
Megan initially blamed her symptoms on her allergies and swimming in her pool. But after her first sip of alcohol, she wasn't so sure.
“It shocked me, I kind of just felt like the burning you would feel from hot sauce, but no flavor. So I was like, 'I drink whiskey.' So I said let me just try the next one and then it was vodka, and then bourbon.”
But she wasn't convinced it might be COVID until she tried tequila.
“Usually just smelling tequila, I cannot stand it. So when I could just swish it, that's when I was like, ‘This is confirmed.’”
It's been more than two weeks since her symptoms began, and her taste and smell still haven't come back.
“I’m finding I’m eating things for just texture and things I know that I like the taste of. And then I was reading online and you can do taste therapy, where you can eat the food and you’re really supposed to try to remember the flavor and it's supposed to come back faster, so I just look very pensive eating things like blueberries.”
Megan has not been tested yet, and so far, her family members haven't shown any signs or symptoms.
She says a few days before losing taste and smell, she felt tired and chilled for about 24 hours but her temperature never hit 100.
She plans to get an antibody test done so she can donate plasma.
And she points out that she didn't drink excessively that evening -- a practice that can lead to alcohol poisoning.
Doctors don't know for sure what causes the loss of senses, but a loss of smell can also occur with other conditions like sinus infections, allergies and other viruses.
Some believe the coronavirus may be infecting the cells in the nose that help support the nerve cells that allow us to smell.
Scientists are still trying to figure out how prevalent some loss of smell is among COVID-19 patients, but one study estimated it may affect up to 70%.
To test yourself safely, you can use common scents you have at home like vanilla extract, lemon, peanut butter, or toothpaste. You want to avoid smelling chemicals that can be harmful like bleach.
The ability to smell typically returns within two to four weeks.
Loss of taste is often linked to loss of smell, so you don't need to use alcohol as a test -- even if you are just trying sips.