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COVID-19 and sense of smell

Date: 01 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous


Earlier this week, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) introduced “a new loss of taste or smell” in a list of COVID-19 symptoms. 



While loss of smell is a known symptom of several diseases, it is less common than hearing loss or vision loss, and patients become conscious of it later than they would notice a fever or body ache.



  • People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19 — Cough and Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

  • In addition, it lists symptoms that include fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and a new loss of taste or smell. If a patient has two or more of these symptoms, the CDC says there is a chance that the person has COVID-2019 infection.

  • Rhinology, ENT and otolaryngology experts have been pushing for inclusion of loss of smell, known as anosmia — in the list of symptoms for some time now.

  • Chills are associated with many other infections, such as malaria, and muscle pain and body ache are typically associated with common flu. For these reasons, health experts have repeatedly noted that it is impossible to symptomatically differentiate between COVID-19 and the common flu.

  • Anosmia and hyposmia, the inability or decreased ability to smell, is estimated to afflict 3-20% of the population. Risk of olfactory dysfunction increases with old age and may also result from chronic sinonasal diseases, severe head trauma, and upper respiratory infections, or neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Other diseases with anosmia among its symptoms include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. In such cases, it is permanent.

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