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Covid-19 increasingly linked with patients who lose their sense of smell

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Wake up and smell the roses. But a group of Covid-19 patients simply can’t as they’ve lost their sense of smell.

Anosmia, losing the ability to smell, can be psychologically difficult to live with and has no real treatment. Anosmia has been linked to some Covid-19 patients, both before they develop full symptoms or after they recover from the major respiratory symptoms. Others, who were asymptomatic, have also developed Anosmia.

An increasing number of Covid-19 patients are paying the price after surviving a brush with the virus. Some are facing a long-term inability to smell.

The president of anosmie.org says Anosmia “cuts you off from the smells of life, it’s a torture.”

“If you have the condition you can no longer breathe in the smell of your first morning coffee, smell the cut grass of a freshly mown lawn or even the reassuring smell of soap on your skin when you’re preparing for a meeting.”

Anosmia, also known as smell blindness, is the loss of the ability to detect one or more smells. Anosmia may be temporary or permanent. It differs from hyposmia which is a decreased sensitivity to some or all smells.

“You only truly become aware of your sense of smell when you lose it. Eating is a completely different experience too, as so much of what we appreciate in food is what we can smell.”

There is already evidence from South Korea, China and Italy, some of the countries hit earliest with the coronavirus outbreaks, that significant numbers of patients with Covid-19 infection have developed anosmia or hyposmia. In Germany it is reported that more than 2 in 3 confirmed cases have anosmia. In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases.

There are also other causes of anosmia – nasal polyps, chronic rhinitis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Now the novel coronavirus has been added to that list with the symptom alone allowing a diagnosis of Covid-19 in some cases.

Doctors report that when patients lose their sense of smell and don’t get it back they note a real change in the quality of life and a level of depression that is not insignificant.

“According to the first numbers, around 80% of patients suffering from Covid-19 recover spontaneously in less than a month and often even faster, in eight to 10 days.”

“For others it could be that the disease has destroyed their olfactory nerves, the ones that detect smells. The good news is that these receptors, at the back of the nose, are able to regenerate.

Two Paris hospitals, Rothschild and Lariboisiere, have launched a “CovidORL” study to investigate the phenomenon, testing how well different nose washes can cure anosmia.

In addition, there has now been a rapidly growing number of reports of a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 patients presenting with anosmia in the absence of other symptoms. This knowledge has been widely shared on medical discussion boards by surgeons from around the world managing a high incidence of cases.

 

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