The holiday season, as odd as it may feel this year, evokes many memories from childhood when the magic was alive and well. One of the strongest triggers for memory is our sense of smell. Gingerbread baking, freshly cut pine trees, and peppermint candy canes are scents that can transport us to another time and place. Smell can also be a simple way to screen for COVID-19. Anosmia, smell loss is a common symptom of infection, even while feeling well in every other respect.
According to a recent CNN report, a sudden and unexplained loss of smell is a warning sign to self-isolate and get tested for the novel coronavirus. By doing so, the spread of COVID-19 can be quelled, and individuals can protect their friends and family from what can be a very serious illness.
Infectious disease experts recommend that everyone check themselves daily for anosmia. Light a scented candle, sniff some cinnamon or cut a lemon and take a whiff. Unlike in cases of the common cold, people infected with COVID-19 may also lose their sense of taste. Chemesthesis is a common symptom and predictor of infection. If you can’t sense the fizz of a sparkling water or the heat from a dash of cayenne pepper, it is wise to isolate and get tested.
Not everyone who contracts coronavirus loses their sense of smell or taste, but smell loss is among the early signs of COVID-19. Nearly everyone who has been infected has some degree of anomia, according to Dr. Richard Doty of Penn Medicine’s Smell and Taste Center. In the absence of other common symptoms like fever and cough which are also hallmarks of the flu or other seasonal viruses, anosmia is more unique to COVID-19.
The good news is that a daily smell test costs nothing, is non-invasive, and could help slow the spread of coronavirus while the general population waits for their chance to be vaccinated. Learn more by following this link to Penn Medicine’s Health and Wellness blog.
Stop, Smell and Be Well.