The sudden disappearance of smell, a symptom of COVID-19?
One of the symptoms of COVID-19 is the sudden disappearance of smell, without nasal congestion and sometimes accompanied by a loss of taste. Experts consider it important to inform doctors since this symptom is not included in the criteria for screening or self-isolation, which could facilitate the spread of the coronavirus.
The National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESSS) has just published an information sheet on the subject.
“In response to various information circulating in certain medical communications and certain information networks, INESSS took the initiative to check in the literature whether there was a link between brutal anosmia [loss of smell] and COVID-19 related disease and if loss of smell could be classified as symptoms suggestive of the disease, ”explains the organization.
As of March 22, 2020, no scientific publication had yet been listed in the literature, notes INESSS. “However, according to information found on the various websites consulted and press reviews, such symptoms in connection with COVID-19 have been observed in several regions of the world by different specialists and network of professionals”, underlines the organization .
Several otorhinologists (ENTs) and infectious diseases specialists around the world, among others, have observed an increase in cases of anosmia in suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.
The onset of this symptom would generally be seen in young patients with mild forms of the disease.
“According to some experts, it would be important to alert the medical community and educate doctors, especially those on the front line, about this phenomenon, since this type of patient does not meet current criteria for screening test or self-isolation and could facilitate the rapid spread of the virus. Still according to some specialists, this symptom could even constitute a diagnostic tool in its own right, ”reports INESSS.
According to current observations, the acute anosmias linked to COVID-19 would gradually diminish and the patients’ state of health would progress favorably. “This simple and inexpensive screening could even help countries that are only at the beginning of the epidemic in order to identify a maximum of cases as early as possible,” writes INESSS.
The body said the loss of smell could occur in isolation without inflammation and without being associated with commonly recognized symptoms of fever and cough.