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Doctors finally found an early warning sign of a coronavirus infection

Published Mar 27th, 2020 1:51PM EDT
coronavirus symptoms
  • A loss of smell and taste has been noted in coronavirus patients in many areas, and New Jersey doctors are now saying many of their patients have experienced the same thing. 
  • Identifying all the symptoms of a coronavirus infection will help doctors and healthcare workers in the screening process. 
  • Some patients who reported a loss of smell or taste had no other symptoms but still tested positive for the virus. 
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As the novel coronavirus makes its way through just about every corner of the globe, identifying the early symptoms doctors and other healthcare workers can use to identify the infection is of huge importance. Lately, claims have begun to surface that those with a coronavirus infection may experience a loss of smell and taste. Now, new reports from doctors in New Jersey add even more evidence to support those claims.

As reports, multiple physicians in the state have reported that patients claiming to have lost their taste and smell eventually tested positive for COVID-19. If these symptoms are indeed widespread in coronavirus patients, it could help hospitals and clinics to identify patients who likely have the infection and expedite testing, and ultimately care, for those individuals.

Loss of smell and taste — called anosmia and dysgeusia, respectively — are easily noticed by those who experience them. They’re also symptoms that aren’t always reported with other conditions that are sometimes confused with a coronavirus infection, like coughing, sore throat, and body aches that accompany the common cold and other ailments.

“Anecdotal evidence is rapidly accumulating from sites around the world that anosmia and dysgeusia are significant symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the American Academy of Otolaryngology said in a statement. “Anosmia, in particular, has been seen in patients ultimately testing positive for the coronavirus with no other symptoms. We propose that these symptoms be added to the list of screening tools for possible COVID-19 infection.”

Patients noting a loss of smell or taste have reported food tasting “like cardboard” or claiming that they couldn’t taste anything at all. Some of those patients had no other symptoms, not even the more common flu-like symptoms often used to screen patients before they are tested, yet they still tested positive for the virus.

For those with allergies, losing their sense of smell can be part of the regular list of symptoms, and those with stuffed up sinuses often can’t taste things as well as normal. However, if a large percentage of COVID-19 patients are also presenting with these symptoms, doctors should absolutely be on the lookout for them and so should the general public.

At this point in the pandemic, it’s still incredibly important to practice social distancing and avoid seeking medical treatment unless your symptoms become severe. Most people with the virus will recover on their own, but if you have a compromised immune system or underlying health conditions, you’re at a greater risk of serious complications. Speak to your doctor or local clinic if you have any concerns that you may be sick with the virus and heed their advice.

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