By now, we’re all familiar with the most common symptoms of COVID-19: fever, body aches, dry cough and breathing difficulty. But for some people, additional symptoms include a loss of smell and taste; these can occur even in the absence of any other symptoms.
Anosmia and ageusia (the medical terms for loss of smell and taste, respectively) are unusual but telling signs of COVID-19 and may indicate infection, according to health care professionals. As a result, ear, nose and throat doctors are urging adults who experience any sudden, unexplainable loss of smell and taste to self-isolate for seven days, even if no other symptoms are present, in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The recommendation is based on numerous reports showing that large numbers of patients infected with the virus are experiencing anosmia, and point to South Korea, where 30% of patients who tested positive reported a loss of smell as their main symptom. In another study, about half of all patients who tested positive for COVID-19 in Germany showed a loss of smell or taste, often before any other symptoms appeared. The silver lining? All patients regained their ability to smell and taste within a few days or weeks.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology agrees, stating that there is increasing evidence of a link between loss of smell and taste and COVID-19. They recommend that doctors treating individuals with these symptoms who do not have a history of allergies or sinusitis should be tested and urged to self-isolate.
If you have lost your sense of taste and/or smell, we recommend getting a COVID test and quarantining while you wait for the results. If your test comes back negative, schedule an appointment with one of our ENT physicians, and we’ll work with you to identify and treat the root cause of the issue.
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