Losing Olfactory Senses: The New Hidden Symptom of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic

Image Credits – Washington Post

The various symptoms leading up to a positive covid-19 diagnosis have been successful in collecting confirmed patterns like high fever, persistent cough, and shortness of breath although these symptoms may vary from person to person. However, severe cases have also shown difficulty in breathing, unexplained confusion and anxiety as some of the most common traits.

Last Friday, a team of British ear, nose, and throat specialists put forward a possible and confirming indicator of the virus that is said to have been found across patients with or without symptoms. It is called anosmia or in other words, a condition where a person loses his or her sense of smell owing to one or more of many physiological complexities. The doctors’ official statement said that people, especially adults who have experienced anosmia could turn out to be unknown carriers of the virus, urging them to remain self-isolated.

The President of the British Rhinological Society, Claire Hopkins said in an interview that the evidence of anosmia is quite prevalent among covid-19 victims but there is yet to be a medical conclusion on the same. She also said that some people may have tried to increase awareness regarding this new symptom but it is yet to come to the limelight.

World Health Organization is yet to confirm anosmia as a symptom but they are working on it. In a joint statement by Hopkins and Nirmal Kumar, president of ENT UK, they said that a substantial number of covid-19 patients have developed some amount of anosmia or hyposmia. In a survey, two-thirds of all confirmed cases in Germany reported experiencing anosmia whereas, in South Korea, 30% of all confirmed cases have anosmia as one of their most prominent symptoms.

Hopkins also said that this week only, she came across nine patients who had lost their sense to smell, something she has never experienced in her career. Most of these patients were under 40 and none of them was prescribed self-isolation.

Anosmia is one of the major symptoms of an upper respiratory infection and this virus has been proved to bring damage to olfactory bulbs which are associated with smell. However, the surprise here lies in the fact that this symptom is also visible in asymptomatic patients.

Hopkins believes that discovering another confirmed symptom with help spread awareness, especially among those who are still not considering taking self-isolation seriously and might be carriers of the virus unknowingly.

Hopkins is worried that awareness of not reaching every household. If anosmia emerges a new confirmed symptom, people might change their ways.

The academy also said that people who have been tested positive with the virus all experienced anosmia to some degrees. Their proposal of adding these symptoms to the official screening list is extremely crucial at this point.

This particular identifying factor of the covid-19 has stirred a lot of interest across labs and medical units. Although it is yet to be confirmed, it is better to identify the red flags and work on precautionary measures before it is too late.


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