Loss of the ability to smell or taste could be a warning sign of the deadly coronavirus, a recent report claimed. Doctors have warned people experiencing the loss of these two senses to self-isolate themselves for a whole week.

Losses of these senses are also seen in otherwise healthy individuals, hinting that it could be a vital indicator of whether a person is unknowingly carrying the deadly coronavirus.

“Many patients reporting this have mild [COVID-19] symptoms, sometimes a little bit of cough and sometimes a fever, but there are patients who are not reporting any other symptoms. It is a dramatic indicator. In my practice, patients all around me are reporting this. Therefore, there are lots of carriers around,” TIME quoted Dr. Nirmal Kumar, the president of ENTUK, a group of British ear, nose and throat specialists.

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.

“All of this evidence is accumulating very rapidly, but there’s nothing yet robustly in print. Since then, I’ve had colleagues from around the world saying: ‘That’s exactly what we’re seeing.’ They’ve been trying [to raise awareness], but it hasn’t been picked up,” the Washington Post quoted Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society.

Key points about this observation:

  • A significant number of COVID-19 patients have developed a loss of smell and taste.
  • In Germany, over two-thirds of COVID-19 positive cases experienced a loss of smell.
  • Nearly 30% of the coronavirus patients in South Korea have reported a loss of smell like one of their major presenting symptoms, even in mild cases.

Anosmia (loss of smell) and hyposmia (reduced ability to smell) are both historically linked to early symptoms of upper respiratory infections such as the previous strains of coronavirus. This is because the virus damages the olfactory bulbs that play a vital role in the sense of smell.

It is important for people experiencing these symptoms to self-isolate themselves. The lack of awareness makes them carry on. Being informed of these warning signs gives us an opportunity to capture those individuals who might be silent spreaders of the deadly COVID-19. Experts urged that anosmia should be added to the list of symptoms found in screening tools for possible COVID-19.

However, the World Health Organization hasn’t yet added the loss of smell or taste as a symptom of COVID-19.

sense of smell and longevity sense of smell and longevity Photo: Public Domain Pictures - Pixabay