A loss of taste and smell is a common early symptom of COVID-19. Therefore, anyone who notices changes in these senses should start self-isolating and get a COVID-19 test.
Changes might include:
When a person contracts SARS-CoV-2 and develops COVID-19, the loss of taste and smell could beTrusted Source their only symptom.
According to one 2020 studyTrusted Source, a sudden, severe loss of taste and smell in the absence of an allergy or other chronic nasal condition could be an early symptom of COVID-19.
However, if someone is experiencing any sort of unexpected dysfunction in taste and smell, even if it is mild, they should self-isolate and get a test for COVID-19.
This loss of taste and smell may occur in people who have no other symptoms of COVID-19.
To test for a loss of taste at home, a person should try foods with strong seasoning and check whether they can detect any differences between the flavors.
A person can test their sense of smell by choosing two items with strong and contrasting aromas, such as coffee granules and an orange, and smelling them individually to see whether they can detect any differences.
Doctors use different tests to diagnose a loss of taste and smell. To diagnose a loss of taste, they may conduct a “sip, spit, and rinse” test. To confirm a loss of smell, they may use a booklet containing tiny beads that produce different smells when someone scratches them.
However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, a person may not be able to undergo one of these tests in person at a doctor’s surgery. If a person has recently lost their sense of taste or smell and wants medical advice, they should call their doctor and speak with them over the phone.
Losing taste and smell suddenly could beTrusted Source an early symptom of COVID-19, so a person who experiences this should start self-isolating and get a COVID-19 test.
It remains unclear why COVID-19 can affect taste and smell so much.
Researchers also note that the expression of the human cell receptors to which SARS-CoV-2 binds is higher in the nasal cavity and cells in the olfactory tissue.
The loss of smell and taste could be an early symptom of COVID-19 and may be the only symptom a person experiences.
Other symptoms to look out for includeTrusted Source:
People with these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider online or over the phone. They should also self-isolate and take a COVID-19 test.
If someone has severe symptoms — for example, they are struggling to breathe — they should seek emergency medical care.