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A New Coronavirus Symptom: Sudden Loss of Smell and Taste
 /  Last Modified: March 25, 2020

Several medical groups, including the American Academy of Otolaryngology of Head and Neck Surgery and the ENT UK warn about COVID-19-positive patients that there’s a new symptom of the coronavirus – their sudden loss of sense of smell and taste.

“Anecdotal evidence is rapidly accumulating from sites around the world that anosmia and dysgeusia are significant symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery issued the statement, citing the growing numbers of cases around the World.

The loss of smell is also called ‘anosmia’, and ‘dysgeusia’ has to do with the loss or having an odd sense of taste.

The most-afflicted countries, South Korea, Italy, and China, also report great numbers of their registered COVID-19 patients having similar symptoms like altered senses of smell and taste.

The president of the British Rhinological Society, Claire Hopkins, and the president of ENT UK, Nirmal Kumar, reported on the statistics: “In Germany it is reported that more than 2 in 3 confirmed cases have anosmia. 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.”

“The symptoms are clearly not as common as cough, fever, and shortness of breath, but in the absence of a known cause for the smell disorder, this symptom may be an additional identifier for infected patients,” according to Dr. James C. Denneny III of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He states that some patients have experienced the symptom early on in COVID-19 illnesses, while others experience it further into the illness.

Some have also reported similar symptoms like Noelle Ruiz, who suffered a 101-degree fever. The flu-like symptoms were followed by a headache and cough six days later. The symptoms later developed into chest pains, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

“I couldn’t really take a deep breath, I didn’t feel like I had enough air in my lungs,” she complains of the pain, and she also mentions the new symptoms: “I lost taste, food wasn’t appetizing, I couldn’t smell anything.”

Even Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz center, tweeted that he lost his sense of smell and taste. The basketball star tested positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago: “I haven’t been able to smell anything for the last four days.”

Dr. Gregory Levitin, an otolaryngologist at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, warns about the coronavirus symptoms: “With the seasonal flu, patients can experience a cluster of symptoms as the illness begins, including a cough, fever, congestion, fatigue and loss of smell or taste.”

“What is most unusual about this new finding is that the loss of smell or taste was the only presenting symptom in a group of patients under the age of 40 who ultimately tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” Levitin writes.

“While it is too early to determine how patients affected by COVID-19 will recover, given what we know it would be reasonable to hope that they would do as well as patients affected by the seasonal flu in years past,” Levitin added, in hopes that the newly uncovered symptom will ease further research and improve the methods of dealing with the novelty coronavirus.

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