Dr. Hao “Mimi” Tran recently received a call from one of her dear friends who asked, “Is loss of smell or taste a symptom of coronavirus? Will I get my sense of smell and taste back?” Her friend had recently contracted coronavirus, COVID-19, and was still in quarantine.
She found out she had the virus 8 days after testing.
Interestingly, in some cases, sudden loss of smell or taste may be the only symptom of COVID-19. This has been seen worldwide according to doctors in France, Northern Italy, the UK, Germany and South Korea.
It seems to occur in younger patients under 40 without the other hallmark symptoms of COVID-19.
It seems to occur in younger patients under 40 without the other hallmark symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. In Germany, it is reported that more than 2 in 3 confirmed cases have anosmia, or loss of smell. In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their main symptom.
Based upon this clinical observation, it has been recommended by ENTUK and the American Academy of Otolaryngology to add acute loss of smell or taste as a screening question for patients who may have COVID-19. If they answer “yes” and testing is not available, then they should self-quarantine for 14 days.