Loss of Taste and Loss of Smell

Early and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19 infection is paramount.

Clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 is complicated as patients present with an influenza like illness. 

The definitive diagnosis relies on a positive PCR swab from the oral and nasopharyngeal regions or a respiratory sputum sample. 

Thoracic CT scan also shows a typical picture. 

Distinctive clinical features are therefore to be welcomed to help select patients who might require further monitoring.

It was noted during the early phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in France that patients reported a loss of smell and a loss of taste.  A study in France showed that in 68 patients who reported positive for COVID-19 63 reported a loss of taste and 51 reported a loss of smell. 

Why?

The olfactory mucosa is located in upper region of the nasal cavity and might be affected by a direct or indirect effect of the COVID-19 virus.  The neuroinvasive potential for COVID-19 virus might explain the pathophysiology of loss of smell and loss of taste.

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