The loss of sense of smell, anosmia, might be symptom of COVID-19

A Centers for Disease Control illustration of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Should the loss of sense of smell be added to the list of COVID-19 symptoms?

A statement posted to suggests maybe so.

ENT UK is the website which represents ear, nose and throat medical practitioners in the United Kingdom.

According to the statement signed off on by Prof. Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society and Prof. Nirmal Kumar, president of ENT UK, “significant numbers of patients with proven COVID-19 infection have developed anosmia/hyposmia.”

Anosmia refers to the complete loss of smell whereas hyposmia refers to a reduction in sense of smell.

The statement reads that in South Korea, 30% of positive patients exhibited anosmia as “their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases.”

“Somebody who has had a loss of smell over the past year, that is not what we are talking about,” said Dr. Peter Zonakis an otolaryngologist at Grand River Health. “We are talking about somebody, who in the past month or so, has lost their sense of smell…We have to figure when (COVID-19) has been more prevalent in the United States.”

In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the U.S.

As of Monday afternoon, the CDC reported 33,404 known cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 400 deaths.

Additionally, the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) recently proposed adding anosmia to the list of COVID-19 screening tools.

The academy stated that anosmia, “in the absence of other respiratory disease,” should indicate to physicians the possibility of COVID-19.

“They are looking for any patterns at all, that they can see in the course of treating this, and that is not unusual,” Zonakis said. “It’s just an additional thing for us to be aware of.”

The evidence to support the loss of sense of smell as a possible COVID-19 symptom was anecdotal AAO-HNS stated.

Currently, the CDC lists fever, cough and shortness of breath as the most common symptoms of COVID-19.

“This is extremely important, nobody with anosmia in the last month or two needs to see a doctor,” Zonakis said. “They really don’t because they’re otherwise perfectly healthy. They are presumed to be contagious and they should self-quarantine from the onset of that symptom.”

An Aspen to Parachute COVID-19 Help Hotline has been established at 970-429-6186 (English and Spanish) and can be reached seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Individuals should not go to an emergency room for COVID-19 testing unless they are having a medical emergency.

According to Garfield County Public Health, a formal diagnosis of COVID-19 will not change the priority to self-isolate if a person is experiencing manageable symptoms.

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