Saturday, 04 April, 2020

Loss of smell or taste might signal coronavirus infection, doctors say

A food shopper wearing a surgical mask stands in the checkout line at a market in Brooklyn Enlarge Image A food shopper wearing a surgical mask stands in the checkout line at a market in Brooklyn Getty Images
Gustavo Carr | 26 March, 2020, 02:13

A third of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in China and Italy have reported a loss of smell, medically known as anosmia or hyposmia. "It's just an additional thing for us to be aware of". "In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases".

"There is potential that if any adult with (loss of smell) but no other symptoms was asked to self-isolate for seven days, in addition to the current symptom criteria used to trigger quarantine", they wrote, the number of asymptomatic people spreading the disease might go down.

In response to a news article on the topic, Daniel Goldman - the former lead investigative counsel for the House Intelligence Committee Democrats who said last week he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19 - wrote on Twitter that "this has been the case with both my wife and me".

In the wake of the global Coronavirus outbreak, medical experts citing reports from several countries noted that a loss of smell or taste might be an early sign of the infection. "We propose that these symptoms be added to the list of screening tools for possible COVID-19 infection", the Sunday statement reads.

Though the doctors could not say for sure when the loss of smell and taste first appeared in these patients, they suspect that the symptoms manifested as a later stage of the infection, Streeck added.

And one German doctor warned that some people naturally have a limited sense of smell. But "we don't have hard evidence right now" about how often smell loss occurs in people infected with the pandemic virus, he said in an interview Monday. Allergies and chronic sinus conditions also can diminish smell.

Abscent, a United Kingdom charity that provides support and advice on olfactory training to a relatively small community of people who have lost their sense of smell, has seen interest "skyrocket", according to founder Chrissi Kelly.

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Taste receptors in the mouth pick up only sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami, the savory meat taste.

At the same time, the coronavirus is known to favor the upper nose, Coughlin said, a fact that comes with a potential warning for health care providers who work in that area.

However, now in Australia, you do not meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing if you have lost your sense of smell.

Dressed in full protective gear a healthcare worker collects a sample from a man sitting inside his vehicle as part of the operations of a coronavirus mobile testing unit.

If you develop other symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact your GP or the Government's hotline (1800 020 080) to find out whether you are eligible for testing.

In keeping with this grim picture, the American doctors also remind their members of the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all clinical specialists make it a priority to make themselves free for urgent and emergency patients for the next few weeks, and to postpone elective or routine surgeries and examinations for this period. Prior studies have found that very early in an infection, the virus sheds from the nose and throat at incredibly high levels. These are symptoms that can come with many different types of respiratory illnesses and are not necessarily indicators of a specific type of infection. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox. "The patients I'm seeing haven't had a cough or fever at all". The WHO says other symptoms can include tiredness, fatigue, and in some patients, "aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea".