Among the most common symptoms of people who have COVID-19, doctors and patients have found that they are the loss of the sense of taste (ageusia), smell (anosmia) or both at the same time.
According to research published in the journal
this summer, the coronavirus reduces the ability to distinguish smells and tastes to the point of not being able to distinguish between sweet and sour.
Something similar happened to Ulises Gutiérrez, 32 years old.
Among the first things she felt besides a general malaise in her body was that the food didn't taste like anything.
“I lost my smell, my taste, and with the spice it felt like you burned your tongue,” he explains to
Accustomed to eating chili, Gutiérrez, who lives in Michoacán but is from Tampico, felt that the sauce did not taste like anything, however, his body continued to react to the spicy with a very strong sensation of pain.
"If you have Covid and lose your taste and smell, can you still enchilarte?" Asked journalist Rafael Cabrera on social networks.
This strange sensation has happened to more people who have been infected with the virus. "You do not perceive the taste, but you do have sensations on your tongue and taste buds. I tried a green sauce that came with some tacos and tears welled up in my eyes not used to chili, "says Borja González, a Spaniard living in Mexico.
consult a specialist why our body reacts in this way.
"Capsaicin, the substance responsible for spiciness, stimulates specific receptors on the tongue and in the mouth that are different from the receptors that perceive flavors," explains Mauricio Rodríguez, professor at the Faculty of Medicine and spokesman for the UNAM for covid -19.
These are the transient potential V1 receptors (TRPV1, for its acronym in English), proteins responsible for the transmission and modulation of pain that alert our brain if something is very hot, a sensation that capsaicin causes chemically in our body.
When in contact with the spicy, the receptors literally warn that our mouth is burning.
"The spiciness is perceived with the same elements as ginger, garlic and mustard," adds Dr. Rodríguez.
The UNAM doctor points out that spiciness and the sensation of being enchilada is associated more with pain than with taste.
"It is a defense mechanism. When you perceive a lot of chili pepper, your body warns you that it hurts you, even if you have lost your taste. A little bit of spicy is rich but a lot can burn you and cause an inflammatory reaction," he warns Muricio Rodríguez.
An experience similar to when we experience the effect of a chili that is pure capsaicin, such as habanero.
"When someone reports that the sensitivity of other flavors and not of spicy is lowered, it may be because the nervous pathways for spiciness are not affected by the virus, while the others are", he points out.
The UNAM doctor explains that there are two hypotheses about the loss of smell and taste in people with the virus.
The first has to do with an inflammation in the mucosa that modifies the local conditions of sensation and detection of these senses.
And a second line of research points to possible neuronal damage that temporarily impairs the reception of smells and flavors.
"Loss of smell and taste are very important because they could be an early detection tip for covid, beyond muscle pain, fever or cough. People could have a routine in the morning of smelling and tasting things to make sure they continue to maintain these senses, "suggests the doctor.
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