Ageusia in COVID-19 is characterized by the loss of the sense of taste. Although it is not a dangerous symptom, ageusia can make it difficult for sufferers to recognize appropriate foods for consumption and are at risk of nutritional deficiencies due to decreased appetite.
Ageusia is a term used to describe the total loss of taste sensation. This makes people who experience it unable to taste any taste from the food or drink they consume.
So far, several studies have shown that ageusia often occurs on the 4th day after the initial symptoms of Corona virus infection appear, such as headache, fever, and cough.
Ageusia will generally subside within 7–21 days. However, these symptoms can persist even though the patient with COVID-19 has been declared cured.
Apart from being infected with the Corona virus, ageusia can also be experienced by people who have other health problems, such as lack of intake zinc, diabetes, Crohn's disease, or hypothyroidism.
Causes of Ageusia in COVID-19
Until now, the cause of ageusia in patients with COVID-19 is not known for certain. However, it is suspected that this condition is related to ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) which can be found in all parts of the oral cavity, especially the surface of the tongue.
One of the roles of ACE2 is to help the tongue to recognize different types of taste. However, on the other hand, this enzyme is also referred to as the door for the Corona virus to enter the body.
This is because the Corona virus infects the human body by binding itself to ACE2. This binding process will damage the taste cells on the tongue, so that the tongue loses its ability to recognize tastes.
In addition, another possible cause of ageusia is the loss of the function of the sense of smell in COVID-19 sufferers due to the entry of the Corona virus into the body through the nasal cavity.
When the sense of smell cannot detect the aroma of the food being consumed, the sense of taste will also be difficult to recognize the taste of the food. This is the reason why some people with COVID-19 experience ageusia and anosmia at the same time.
How to Process Food When Experiencing Ageusia
Ageusia is actually classified as one of the symptoms of COVID-19 that is not dangerous. However, the loss of the sense of taste in detecting taste will cause COVID-19 sufferers to have difficulty recognizing food that is still fit for consumption.
This condition puts COVID-19 sufferers at risk of poisoning due to accidentally consuming food that has been contaminated with germs, especially if the patient is self-isolating and preparing his own food.
The following is a guide to processing food if you are suffering from COVID-19 and experiencing ageusia:
- Wash hands, cooking utensils, and food utensils using soap and running water, both before and after use.
- Clean the food first before cooking it.
- Avoid cooking food items, such as meat, chicken, seafood, or vegetables that have changed color and texture.
- Make sure the ingredients are cooked evenly, especially when cooking meat, chicken, eggs, and seafood.
If you want to eat packaged foods, make sure they are not past their expiration date. Packaged food or drinks should also be used immediately after opening the lid. If there are any left, store them in the refrigerator.
In addition, easily contaminated raw foodstuffs, such as meat and fish, should be stored separately in the freezer. This is important because bacteria can move easily from raw food and contaminate cooked food.
How to Increase Appetite When Experiencing Ageusia
Not only is it difficult to process food, ageusia can also cause COVID-19 sufferers to have no appetite to eat. In fact, the intake of nutritious food is very necessary to increase the body's immunity to fight Corona virus infection.
To increase appetite when experiencing ageusia, COVID-19 sufferers can try several ways, such as using brightly colored food ingredients to make cooking look more attractive or choosing to eat foods that are wanted or favored.
Meanwhile, if ageusia complaints are not accompanied by a loss of sense of smell, kitchen herbs or spices with a strong aroma can be mixed into food to stimulate the brain to recall the taste of the food being consumed. Thus, appetite can also increase.
Ageusia in COVID-19 is not a dangerous symptom. However, this condition also should not be ignored, especially if it has caused you to lose your appetite, resulting in weight loss or even malnutrition. Therefore, consult a doctor if you experience it.