Is the loss of smell and taste one of the major coronavirus symptoms?
June 23, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

Is the loss of smell and taste one of the major coronavirus symptoms?

اردو میں پڑھیں  

Coronavirus is seen as a mysterious viral infection, manifesting in different ways from person to person. Many people may have the virus and be unaware of it. The lack of information surrounding the virus creates uncertainty, which is bound to generate fear. There are two broad ways to monitor yourself to see whether the pandemic has reached you. Firstly, you must carefully consider any social contact you have had in the past few weeks. Secondly, you have to observe your physiology to keep an eye out for symptoms. Your body may not change if you are asymptomatic, but you should still keep an eye out. There are certain tell-tale signs of the virus, which prompt due concern and isolation measures—one of them being a loss of smell and taste. Still, many carriers of COVID-19 are asymptomatic (show no symptoms), so it is recommended that you get tested every couple of months even if you do not show signs. 

 How common is the loss of smell and taste among COVID-19 patients?

A team of researchers at King's College in London collected responses from over 400,000 people who reported perceived symptoms of COVID-19 to an app. The study observed that 54% of the people reported having fatigue or exhaustion. 29% reported a persistent cough, 28% reported shortness of breath, 18% had a loss of their sense of smell and taste, and 10.5% suffered from a fever. Out of the sample, only 1702 had been tested, and 579 of those tested positive. The study concluded that a loss of smell and taste is a significant symptom of the coronavirus.

 How important is it?

While the loss of smell and taste is generally a symptom of respiratory infections, such as the common cold, they are also associated with COVID-19. Experts, however, maintain that the most prominent symptoms to look at for are fever and cough. There is simply insufficient evidence to validate the loss of the senses as a major symptom. The Ear, Nose, and Throat health body of the United Kingdom has said that these symptoms are common to infections like the coronavirus, and are not unique to COVID-19. King's College London did declare that people with a loss of smell and taste are three times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus. Similarly, researchers at UC San Diego announced that diminished senses might make you ten times more likely to have contracted the coronavirus.

 Doctors at Staten Island University Hospital in New York also supported this research. Still, they did state that if the loss of smell and taste resolves quickly, it suggests that you may recover successfully from COVID-19. However, if the loss of senses persists, it may hint towards a lengthy and severe battle against COVID-19. 


Therefore, if you are self-monitoring to see if you have contracted the virus, loss of taste or smell is a significant symptom to look out for. If you experience a loss of smell or taste, along with a few other minor symptoms like headaches, body pain, eye infection, slight fever, and coughing, you likely have coronavirus. However, the loss of senses alone is not sufficient to reach a judgment, as this may result from other diseases like the common cold. If you experience this symptom, Shifa4U advises that you get preliminarily tested for COVID-19 via tests such as sputum culture and a CT scan of the chest. If you have any other questions or medical problems, Shifa4U offers online consultation and doctor services that can be used from the comfort of your home.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.