Loss of smell by coronavirus: how to test your senses?


(CNN) — In mild to moderate cases of coronavirus, loss of sense of smell and therefore taste, is fast becoming one of the first signs most unusual of the disease called covid-19.

“What is called anosmia, which basically means loss of sense of smell, it seems to be a symptom that developed several patients,” said medical correspondent head of CNN, dr. Sanjay Gupta, the presenter of CNN’s Alisyn Camerota in the program New Day.

“May be related to the loss of taste, loss of appetite, we’re not sure, but clearly it is something to keep in mind,” said Gupta. “Sometimes, these early symptoms are not the classic”.

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Although fever, cough and shortness of breath are classic signs key contract covid-19, a recent analysis of milder cases in South Korea found that the main symptom of presentation in 30% of the patients was the loss of sense of smell. In Germany, more than two out of every three confirmed cases had anosmia.

In response, the American academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the ENT UK, a professional organization representing surgeons to ear, nose and throat in the Uk, and ask that you add the loss of sense of smell or taste to the screening tools for possible infection by covid-19.

But to those with troubling signs, which may or may not be coronavirus, are told to stay home and monitor their symptoms for not cramming to hospitals, clinics and health care workers who already are overburdened and struggling to save lives.

So, is there something you can do at home to test if you’re losing the sense of smell?

The answer is yes, by using the “jellybean”.

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The test of the jelly bean

“Take a jelly bean in one hand and with the other hand cover the nose with force so that it does not flow air,” said Steven Munger, director of the Center for Smell and Taste at the University of Florida.

“You put the jelly bean in your mouth and chew it. Let’s say that it is a jelly with fruit flavor: if you get the taste more the sweetness of the jelly and you know you have a sense of taste functional,” said Munger.

“Then, while you’re still chewing, suddenly loose your nose. If you have a sense of smell, suddenly you get all the smells, and then say, ‘Oh! It is a jelly of lemon” or “Oh! Is cherry”. It really is a type of response very dramatic, fast, and amazing”, he explained.

“Then, if you can get over the sour taste the full taste and to know what is the taste,” said Munger, “then your sense of smell is probably in pretty good shape.”

The scientific name of this process is to smell retro nasal, where the smells flowing from the back of the mouth up through the pharynx and nasal to the nasal cavity.

But, what if you don’t have a jelly bean? You can also use other foods, said dr. Erich Voigt, a specialist in ear, nose and throat, director of the division of otolaryngology of the dream of the Langone Health of NYU.

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“The sense of smell pure would be if you can smell a particular substance that is not stimulating other nerves,” said Voigt. “Then, some examples of this would be if you can smell the ground coffee or the coffee preparation, or if you can smell someone peeling an orange. That is the sense of smell”.

But you must be careful, because it is easy to think that you’re using your sense of smell when you’re not, ” said Voigt.

“So, for example, ammonia or cleaning solutions, stimulate the trigeminal nerve, which is a nerve irritant,” he said. “And then the people will think, ‘I can smell Clorox, I can smell ammonia, which means that I can smell’. But no, that is not correct. In reality, do not smell, are using the trigeminal nerve”.

What you’re still not sure if you’re doing it right? Reviews on the Internet tests scratching and sniffing-based recommended scientifically.

The loss of smell is common

Of course, not all people who do not pass a test of smell have coronavirus. Any respiratory virus, like a cold or the flu, will affect temporarily the senses of smell and taste, sometimes even permanently.

“The amount of swelling that can occur in the nose by the viral effect can be avoided that the particles of odor from reaching the top of the nose where the olfactory nerve,” said Voigt. “When the inflammation diminishes, the sense of smell can return.”

But also there is virus neurotoxic, some of which are in the category of common cold, ” said Voigt.

“If they are neurotoxic, meaning they damage the olfactory nerve and becomes essentially non-functional”, he added. “Many of these cases can recover the smell with the time, but sometimes it is a permanent loss”.

A loss of sense of smell chronic partial or full-is incredibly common, ” said Munger, which affects millions of americans long before the new coronavirus appeared on the scene.

“About 13% of the population has a significant impairment of smell or taste,” she said.

In addition to the cold and the flu, other causes of loss of smell include nasal polyps, tumours, neurodegenerative diseases such as alzheimer’s disease or parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injuries or head injuries, including whiplash.

“If someone has had a car accident or have had a whiplash injury or a head injury, that could also affect the small nerves as they go from the brain to the nose,” said Voigt. “Therefore, a whiplash type injury may also cause a permanent loss of the sense of smell”.

A loss of taste is commonly associated with the loss of sense of smell, because we have to rely on smell to identify flavours. But there may also be medical reasons: some medications can affect the flavor; the chemotherapy and radiation therapy certainly can alter the taste; and then there is physical damage, such as severed nerves during dental surgeries.

A connection of coronavirus

If you think that you have lost the sense of smell (and don’t have a medical reason to explain their loss), the experts say that you should take the symptom seriously.

“At this point would be pretty sure to put it in the same category as, say, fever,” said Munger. “Obviously, a variety of things can cause a fever. But if you lose your sense of smell quickly, you want to isolate yourself and communicate with your doctor to talk about steps you can take.”

Voigt agrees: “My recommendation is that one be isolated and quarantined for about 14 days and does not transmit that virus to other people,” he said. “If you have to go out, wear a mask to not share the virus with others”.

If you experience a loss of sense of smell, be careful because there are dangers such as not being able to smell a gas leak or perceive milk, rotten food or rancid.

And keep in mind that the loss of smell can occur even more in the disease, along with other symptoms more common.

“May precede the viral symptoms,” said Voigt. “There were people with symptoms of disease very mild, but yes lost the sense of smell. And there are other patients in whom the loss of sense of smell started after having a fever and chills.

“So the time line is not predictive,” stressed the expert. “And neither is it a sign predictive of the severity of the disease, does not predict who will have complications severe lung at this time. We do not have data to say that.”

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