COVID19 patients describe a loss of smell and taste

Henrietta Strickland
March 26, 2020

It looks like we are yet to unearth all of the possible symptoms that a Coronavirus patient might possess and loss of smell and/or taste is one of them. So that might be useful as a way to spot infected people without other symptoms - fever, coughing and shortness of breath - of the new coronavirus, they wrote.

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One of the major complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen, is that many who transmit the illness will show mild or no symptoms, making it very hard to identify how many people are infected with the disease and who is therefore likely to pass it on to others. These are symptoms that can come with many different types of respiratory illnesses and are not necessarily indicators of a specific type of infection.

"With the pandemic now going on, if you are young or old and have an unexplained smell loss come on quite quickly, even in the setting of minimal respiratory symptoms, you should be highly suspicious that you might have acquired infection with coronavirus or another respiratory virus", said Richard Harvey, vice president of the Australia and New Zealand Rhinologic Society.

Experts have found "good evidence" from South Korea, China and Italy for loss or impairment of smell in infected people says a joint statement from the presidents of the British Rhinological Society and of ENT UK, a British group that represents ear, nose and throat doctors.

In a similar proposition, an American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery noted "rapidly accumulating" anecdotal evidence from around the world that the pandemic virus can cause not only loss of smell but also a diminished sense of taste. In a previous study, human coronaviruses were identified in the nasal secretions of one of the 24 anosmia patients studied. According to them, this odd symptom may be among the early warning signs of the disease.

Doctors have been observing these two symptoms and have warned that anyone experiencing a loss of smell could be a potential carrier of COVID-19.

Physicians from other countries have cited reports indicating that a "significant number" of coronavirus patients experienced anosmia.

For most of us, symptoms of Covid-19 may already be something that we are pretty familiar with, given the frequency by which we are reminded of them in the news.

As of Monday afternoon, the CDC reported 33,404 known cases of COVID-19 in the US and 400 deaths.

Researchers believe that the data from the study will reveal important information about the symptoms and progress of the COVID-19 infection in different people, and why some go on to develop more severe or fatal disease while others have only mild symptoms. Other such cases have been reported worldwide, including in the United States. And in South Korea, a country that has seen ample COVID-19 testing, "30 percent of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases".

The official lingo is hyposmia, decreased sense of smell, and dysgeusia, a distorted sense of taste.

"This week, I saw nine patients that lost their sense of smell, which is unheard of in my practice", Hopkins said. However, they can differentiate people who should be tested from those who don't need it.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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