Q and A

Question

Are taste and smell changes common with COVID-19?

Answer

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and a dry persistent cough .

Early anecdotal reports in the US also included taste and smell changes and last week a study was published that confirm these as symptoms too. [1]

The US study reported that smell and taste loss were reported in 68% (40/59) and 71% (42/59) of people who had COVID-19, respectively. This compared to only 16% (33/203) and 17% (35/203) of people that did not have COVID-19. People reporting smell and taste changes were about ten times more likely to have COVID-19.

Two other studies have reported more details. [2, 3]

The letter in JAMA reported that taste and smell changes occurred in about 1 in 3 people with coronavirus. Also, that this could occur at any time – ie before or after other symptoms. In a few people (about 3%) this was the only symptom of coronavirus.

References

  1. Yan CH et al. Association of chemosensory dysfunction and Covid-19 in patients presenting with influenza-like symptoms. International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/alr.22579.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32279441/
  2. Giacomelli  A  et al.  Self-reported olfactory and taste disorders in SARS-CoV-2 patients: a cross-sectional study.  Clin Infect Dis. 2020;ciaa330. Published online March 26, 2020. doi:10.1093/cid/ciaa330. (26 March 2020).
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa330
  3. Spinato G et al. Alterations in smell or taste in mildly symptomatic outpatients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. JAMA, research letter. (22 April 2020).
    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2765183

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