Loss of smell and distortions in the sense of taste are emerging as “significant symptoms” associated with COVID-19, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (which represents ear, nose, and throat doctors).
In a statement released March 22, the organization noted that many patients around the world who tested positive for the illness have reported experiencing one of both of these changes, even in the absence of other symptoms. In particular, loss of smell, medically known as anosmia, has been seen in otherwise asymptomatic people who ultimately turned out to have COVID-19.
“Anosmia, hyposmia [decrease in smell], and dysgeusia [taste distortion, often resulting from loss of smell] in the absence of other respiratory disease”—such as allergies or acute or chronic sinusitis—"should alert physicians to the possibility of COVID-19 infection and warrant serious consideration for self-isolation and testing of these individuals,” the organization stated. It has also created a reporting tool for health care providers to submit confidential data about COVID-19 patients who have experienced these symptoms.