The Nose May Know
Anosmia may be a peculiar symptom of infection
An unusual symptom has emerged as a possible sign of coronavirus: the inability to taste or smell.
British ear, nose, and throat doctors raised concerns about this symptom, known as anosmia, in a statement published last Friday. They said there was good evidence from South Korea, China, and Italy that “significant numbers” of people who test positive for coronavirus also develop anosmia and that reports from Germany, France, the United States, and northern Italy suggested the same.
Anosmia isn’t on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's official list of symptoms, at least not yet. So far, the published evidence is scant, but anecdotal evidence is mounting. On Sunday, American otolaryngologists proposed that anosmia, as well as the distortion of taste known as dysgeusia, be “added to the list of screening tools for possible Covid-19 infection.”
Physicians are raising concerns about this symptom because it may be a sign that someone is infected and should self-quarantine, even if they have no other symptoms. In their statement, the British doctors said anyone who notices they have anosmia should isolate themselves for a week.
The World Health Organization hasn’t confirmed whether these are common features of infection but are looking into it, STAT reports. Until further guidance comes, anosmia is something for people and physicians to be aware of. If you’re wondering what it might feel like, the New York Times compiled many unsettling anecdotes from people who have experienced it.