Loss of taste, smell might be hidden symptoms of coronavirus

Henrietta Strickland
March 26, 2020

The world is now dealing with the pandemic that Coronavirus is, and while everyone has been taking their own measures to stay home and have been keeping up with the prescribed precautions, it looks like we still don't know everything about the COVID 19.

Some doctors are warning that anosmia, the loss of sense of smell, and ageusia, a decreased sense of taste, are possible markers of a mild COVID-19 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.

Doctors and researchers still have much to learn about the exact symptoms caused by COVID-19, but a group of ear, nose and throat doctors now suspect two such symptoms may be an altered sense of taste, called dysgeusia, and a loss of smell, known as anosmia.

Doctors in countries where COVID-19 has spread have reported that some people whose only apparent symptom is a loss of smell may not have been tested for the virus and could unwittingly be spreading it.

"There is potential that if any adult with anosmia but no other symptoms was asked to self-isolate for seven days... we might be able to reduce the number of otherwise asymptomatic individuals who continue to act as vectors, not realising the need to self-isolate", ENT UK added.

This is also consistent with what has been reported in a statement made by ENT UK, a professional organization representing ear, nose and throat surgeons in the United Kingdom.

"We really want to raise awareness that this is a sign of infection and that anyone who develops loss of sense of smell should self-isolate", Prof.

"We've had 700 reports from patients around the world [presenting sudden loss of smell and taste] and this is much more frequent than we're used to seeing". In my practice, patients all around me are reporting this. However, Germany is not testing at the same rates as South Korea and the data may be skewed.

Although ENT experts are calling for anosmia to be added as a symptomatic trigger for testing and self-isolation, it is too early to tell how common the symptom is, and whether it regularly presents in mild or even asymptomatic cases.

The website advises that if the patient's anosmia or hyposmia can not be satisfactorily accounted for by allergies or sinusitis, the physician should think immediately of testing for coronavirus. These other symptoms are still only reported in a minority of cases and should not be considered as common as the primary symptoms.

"Almost everybody who is hospitalized has this same story", said Dr. Marco Metra, chief of the cardiology department at the main hospital in Brescia. Normally, Kumar says, a busy surgery like his would receive perhaps one report of lost smell or taste per month. The sense of smell usually returns when the infection resolves, but in a small percentage of cases, smell loss can persist after other symptoms disappear. Working in COVID-19 of the SEORL-CCC. While saying this, Hopkins also said that in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the pandemic, reports had said that many ENT as well as eye specialists had been infected and had died of coronavirus infection.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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