Sudden loss of sense of smell may indicate “hidden carriers” of coronavirus – UK experts say
Sudden loss of smell and taste may be associated with a mild or asymptomatic COVID-19. This is an important tip – experts say – to undergo self-isolation, stay at home for a week and thus prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Sudden loss of sense of smell and taste, without other classic COVID-19 symptoms in the form of cough or fever, has been noticed during patient studies in South Korea, China and Italy. As many as one-third of patients in Korea reported the loss of smell (anosmia or hyposmia) in mild cases of the disease. Germany reports that more than two out of three patients with confirmed COVID-19 have also reported anosmia. Reports from Iran, where the epidemic is currently developing at a dramatic pace, mention the sudden increase in cases of isolated anosmia, according to otolaryngologists.
Anosmia means a total loss of smell, accompanied by a decrease or lack of appetite. Food loses its taste overnight. Hyposmia is a partial loss of smell. Both anosmia and hyposmia are well known to people with a cold, with upper respiratory tract infections. Post-viral anosmia, according to the ENT UK website, is one of the main causes of adult olfactory loss, accounting for up to 40 percent of all cases of anosmia. It would be strange if the new coronavirus did not wreak havoc here.
In the case of coronavirus, loss of smell can be the main symptom of very mild COVID-19. Professor Clare Hopkins from the British Rhinological Society and prof. Nirmal Kumar from the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology issued a joint statement in this case, in which they say that the analysis of available data from several countries and their observations led them to the conclusion that the loss of smell can be a marker of COVID-19 infection.
Many patients around the world who have had a positive test for coronavirus reported loss of smell and taste as the only symptoms, without more commonly recognized symptoms such as high fever and cough, experts write. The absence of other symptoms of infection means that most infections probably escape our attention. Asymptomatic COVID-19 is one of the engines of the spreading epidemic.
In particular, young people may not even notice a coronavirus infection. Loss of smell and taste is a sign that the virus has accumulated in the nasal cavity. The nose is, after all, the main pathway through which the coronavirus enters the human body. By breathing in air, we also breath in moisture droplets that may contain viruses.
– said prof. Kuman to Sky News reporters.
Therefore, the experts called for all those who notice a sudden loss of smell to submit themselves for seven days and observe their body. This can prevent the virus from moving and save many people from being infected.
Observations of otolaryngologists are not yet confirmed by research, but they can be helpful as a good advice to stay at home.