Loss of taste or smell does indeed seem to be a symptom of Covid-19 infection, researchers reported Wednesday.
A survey of more than 200 patients in Italy found that 67% reported an altered sense of taste or smell either right before or right after they tested positive for Covid-19.
Dr. Daniele Borsetto of Guy’s Hospital in London and colleagues said theirs was only the second medical study of what’s called anosmia, despite many stories from patients who say they have experienced it.
For their study, called the Sino-nasal Outcome Test 22 or SNOT-22, the researchers spoke to 202 Italian Covid-19 survivors by telephone. “Patients were contacted five to six days after the swab was performed,” they wrote in their report, published in the medical journal JAMA.
“During the telephone interview, they were asked whether they had experienced a sudden onset of an altered sense of smell or taste in the 2 weeks before the swab,” Borsetto’s team wrote.
They found that 130 of the patients reported some sort of altered taste or smell. That’s 67%. A third also reported having had a blocked nose, which can alter taste and smell.
“Other frequent symptoms were fatigue (68.3%), dry or productive cough (60.4%), and fever (55.5%),” the team wrote.
The loss of taste or smell is not necessarily a precursor to other symptoms. Only 12% reported it as their first symptom. About a quarter said they lost smell or taste along with their other symptoms and another 27% noticed it as the last symptom. Just 3% said it was their only symptom.
“If these results are confirmed, consideration should be given to testing and self-isolation of patients with new-onset of altered taste or smell during the Covid-19 pandemic,” the researchers concluded.
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