While most of us are aware that the typical symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, there is a growing amount of evidence that loss of smell and taste are significant symptoms associated with the coronavirus, too.
Around the world, doctors are warning the public that hyposmia, a decreased sense of smell, and dysgeusia, a distorted sense of taste (anosmia and ageusia are the full loss of smell and taste, respectively), should be added to the list of screening tools for possible Covid-19 infection.
Harvard Medical School researchers explained that the reason these symptoms may appear suddenly is that the coronavirus is capable of attacking key cells in the nose, which explains why some patients lose their ability to smell and taste. In particular, certain cells at the back of the nose contain the very proteins that the coronavirus targets to invade our bodies, and infection of these cells could directly or indirectly result in an altered sense of smell.
In South Korea alone, 30 percent of 2,000 patients who tested positive experienced anosmia as their major symptom; therefore, anyone who develops loss of sense of smell should self-isolate and get tested, even if they have no other symptoms. In addition, healthcare workers are advised to use personal protective equipment when treating any patient with anosmia and dysgeusia and avoid performing non-essential sinus endoscopy procedures altogether.