Your Nose Knows: Slow the Spread of COVID-19 with Early Detection of Lost Sense of Smell
Food suddenly not tasting the same? Unable to smell aromas? COVID-19 could be to blame.
One of the least-publicized symptoms of COVID-19 is a lost sense of smell, and, consequently, taste. Initially, reports of a correlation between a lost sense of smell and COVID-19 were just anecdotal. But, as the data grew, the link was unmistakable. Now, a lost sense of smell is an officially recognized COVID-19 symptom in the United States and other countries, estimated to impact as many as 80% of COVID-19 patients. The effect is often total: a complete inability to smell, which also can make it difficult to taste.
And, here’s the important part: losing the sense of smell is sometimes the first discernible symptom of COVID-19, before fever, cough, or sore throat. While some COVID-19 symptoms do not arise until at least five days after infection (if at all), a lost sense of smell typically arises on day three, one study concludes. What’s more, the earliest days after infection — before some symptoms are detectable — are when COVID-19 patients are most contagious, some studies show.
Because a lost sense of smell precedes other more recognizable symptoms, and because the risk of transmission is highest in the earliest days of infection, people who detect it early can help to stop the virus’ spread by self-isolating immediately and, possibly, testing.
So, pay attention to your nose. You could save lives.