Tell-Tale Sign of COVID-19: Patients Share Their Food Taste Like Cardboard

Jan 26, 2021 03:39 AM EST | By Josh Summers (

COVID-19 Patients Share Their Food Taste Like Cardboard
(Photo : Justin Sullivan)
A man bites into a hot dog during a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants April 7, 2005

Amidst the long months of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, it inflicted fear to the people and at the same time made them extra cautious about things. Their food and diet consumption is aligned in reinforcing the immune system, which is the body's first line of defense when foreign bodies invade one's system.

ver since coronavirus introduced itself globally, different symptoms and the manifestation of the notorious disease is identified by the experts is when suddenly food tastes like cardboard.

The change in taste determines whether an individual contracted SARS-CoV-2, a virus that causes COVID-19. Because of this, people get alarmed, especially in the early days of pandemic when the vaccine for the respiratory disease is not yet rolling.

Aside from the change in the sense of taste, there are more determinants of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Cardboard or Food?

Previous COVID-19 positive patients are attesting that the food they ate tasted liked cardboard to the point that it affects their appetite. In an interview with the BBC, 23-year old Horcel Kamaha shares that his loss of taste lasted for three months when he had the disease in March of 2020.

He also notes that he can't even taste foods with strong flavors like Jamaican food, which he eats frequently. BBC notes that for Yamaha, the strong flavors of the delicacy taste like cardboard.

Times of India reports that some people who contracted the virus do seem to taste at all, while others suggested that they are bland. They also note that arguably, most people claimed that the food they eat tastes like cardboard, alongside the smell, which was also affected.

Read also: What COVID-19 Patients Should Eat and Avoid for Fast Recovery

In April 2020, Science Daily reported a study by researchers from the University of California San Diego that demonstrates the loss of taste and smell is linked to COVID-19 infections. The researchers of the study point out in Science Daily that if an individual lost the sense of smell and taste, they are ten times susceptible to COVID-19 than other causes of infection.

COVID-19 and Sense of Taste

Even with the evidence that distortion of the sense of taste happens to people who contracted the coronavirus, Economic Times references a study suggesting that COVID-19 does not directly affect the taste bud cells and is indirectly caused by events induced during the inflammation, which is caused by the disease. They add that the research shows a 20%-25% of patients report loss of taste.

SciTech Daily notes that the research led by associate professor Hongxiang Liu from UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences also demonstrates that taste bud cells are not vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 because they do not express ACE2, a gateway that the virus uses to enter the body.

They add that ACE2 was enriched in cells the give the tongue its rough surface, but it is not present in tastebud cells, which means the virus probably does not affect the taste loss through direct infection.

Although more study is needed to verify how the tastebuds are getting affected by COVID-19, answers will have to wait why the food tastes like cardboard for some people who contracted the virus. Moreover, caution is still advised to the public to prevent the notorious respiratory disease's further spread.

Related article: Drinking This Every Day May Weaken COVID-19

WATCH: Man Can't Taste or Smell 3 Months After Getting COVID-19 from Inside Edition

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