A Belgian University study has revealed that nearly 90 percent of people in Europe and the United States with mild coronavirus symptoms exhibit a loss of taste and smell.
A loss of smell and taste are common symptoms in people with COVID-19 in Europe and the United States, according to the study by two ENT doctors at the University of Mons in Belgium.
This study was carried out on 417 coronavirus patients (263 women and 154 men) displaying only mild symptoms and revealed that 86 percent had problems with their sense of smell, with no longer able to smell anything and that 88 percent had trouble with their sense of taste.
The symptoms were found in a large number of patients in England, Germany, Italy, Spain, France and the United States, according to the university.
According to the study, the issues with smell usually occur at the same time as other general symptoms such as having a cough, muscle pain, loss of appetite, and having a fever, as well as ENT symptoms including facial pain and a blocked nose.
But in 23 percent of cases, the loss of smell or taste came after these other symptoms while in 12 percent of cases, they came before the onset of other symptoms.
It is currently unclear why, but the study shows that women are more often prone to anosmia (the loss of smell) than men.
The study indicates that almost half of the subjects, some 44 percent, recover their sense of smell within 15 days.
According to a press release issued by the University of Mons: “The rest of the patients must have high hopes” of recovering their sense of smell “within 12 months.”
The recovery of taste is a more “random” process that can happen before, at the same time or after the recovery of smell.
The study was conducted by 33 ENT doctors and researchers in 12 different European hospitals, and the two specialists who coordinated the study, Jerome Lechien and Sven Saussez, recommend considering the appearance of anosmia and dysgeusia (partial or total loss of taste) in patients with no ENT history as “a specific symptom of COVID-19 infection.”
As a precaution, these people “should be considered as potentially infected with COVID-19 and therefore isolated for a minimum of seven days”, even if they do not develop any of the other symptoms characteristic of the disease.
A new survey has been launched by these specialists to verify that people with isolated anosmia or dysgeusia have been affected by the virus and to better understand the mechanisms of the loss of taste and smell in this infection.
The survey is available (in French) on the University of Mons’ website: https://web.umons.ac.be/fr/covid-19-lumons-lance-une-etude-sur-la-perte-dodorat-et-de-gout/
In Paris, Dr Alain Corre, an ENT at the Rothschild Hospital-Foundation also recommends considering anosmic people as carriers of SARS-CoV-2, after having observed with a colleague that 90 percent of these patients were positive for COVID-19.
These results are concordant with a study by King’s College London, where researchers have developed a COVID Symptom Tracker app (available here https://covid.joinzoe.com/ and on the Apple Appstore, as well as on the Google Play store).
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