NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Fever, coughing, shortness of breath. These are common well-known symptoms of COVID-19. But the loss of smell and taste has many baffled. Find out why it is not as uncommon as you think.
Chuck Fletcher, MD, an assistant professor, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, prides himself at always staying healthy.
“I always marveled that I never had the flu,” said Dr. Fletcher.
Then COVID-19 happened, and he was one of the more than six million Americans who tested positive.
“There were times where I was afraid to go to sleep because I wasn’t sure whether I’d wake up the next day,” continued Fletcher.
Fletcher had difficulty breathing, abdominal pain and lost his sense of smell and taste.
“I noticed that everything that my wife was pushing under the door for me just started not tasting very good,” he said.
“Fifty to 70% of patients who developed COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19 will lose part or all of their sense of smell and/or taste,” said Justin Turner, MD, PhD, Medical Director of Smell and Taste Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Turner says for up to 25% of patients, the loss of smell and taste could be the first and sometimes the only sign of COVID-19.
“It could be present before things like fever, and cough, and some of the things that we more commonly identify with the disease,” explained Turner.
But one potential silver lining of the symptom: a study out of UC San Diego health found patients who lose their sense of smell and taste may be more likely to only have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. Like Fletcher who was never hospitalized and now has his senses coming back.
“Coffee was the last thing that came back,” said Fletcher.
The loss of smell and taste is associated with upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold. However, a recent study out of Europe found that it is more severe in COVID-19 patients due to the effect of the coronavirus on the brain and nervous system.