Monday, 06 April, 2020


Loss of taste, smell might be hidden symptoms of coronavirus

Losing Sense of Smell and Taste Could Be a Symptom of Coronavirus Coronavirus: Is lost sense of smell, taste an early symptom?
Patty Aguilar | 25 March, 2020, 16:56

In an ideal situation, no one should have to rely on social media for medical advice, but given how fast this pandemic is moving and how much is still unknown about the coronavirus, many feel they have no other recourse. Should these participants show signs of Covid-19, they will be sent a kit so that they can be tested for the disease.

Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, said: "The concept is it is an early warning radar device because we are asking about non-classical symptoms as well, because many people are reporting non-persistent cough, or feeling unwell or a odd feeling of a lack of taste, or chest tightness that aren't in the classical list but if we see it across the country in clusters we know they are probably real [symptoms of Covid-19]".

Losing those senses appears to be an early sign of the virus, officially termed COVID-19, and was a common symptom among patients in South Korea, China and Italy, according to ENT UK, an organization of ear, nose and throat doctors in the United Kingdom.

"While there is a chance the apparent increase in incidence could merely reflect the attention CovID-19 has attracted in the media, and that such cases may be caused by typical rhinovirus and coronavirus strains, it could potentially be used as a screening tool to help identify otherwise asymptomatic patients, who could then be better instructed on self-isolation", Hopkins and Kumar wrote.

The problem is for many of these patients, loss of the sense of smell has been an isolated symptom, without the other typical symptoms that we are associating with COVID-19, said Perth ENT specialist Peter Friedland.

It is not unusual for patients infected with a respiratory virus to have such symptoms.

The data obtained from the trial, researchers argue, will help to obtain relevant information regarding the symptoms and progression of coronavirus in different people, also helping understand why some go on to develop more severe or fatal cases while others have only mild symptoms.

"So the question is how does one differentiate between having a cold that is so bad, and COVID-19?"

In addition, pharyngeal pain has been alerted in recent days to the appearance of alterations in smell and taste (anosmia and ageusia), of different severity, in a high percentage of patients with COVID-19.

Anosmia is a term we use to describe a total or partial loss of smell, which can be caused by a blocked nose or something more serious such as a head injury. These other symptoms are still only reported in a minority of cases and should not be considered as common as the primary symptoms.

Why can you lose your sense of smell when you have COVID-19?

"Perhaps the most important real estate in the nasal cavity sits in the roof of the nasal cavity", Professor Friedland said, "just between our eyes".

When we have a cold, the path to that area is obstructed because we've got inflammation in the nose so smell particles can't get up there.

"This is a mechanism which actually damages the lining of those olfactory cells", Professor Friedland said. (For those experiencing short-term anosmia, Hummel and Hopkins agree that the sense of smell typically returns as the body recovers).

Anosmia refers to the complete loss of smell whereas hyposmia refers to a reduction in sense of smell.

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