Are taste and olfactory disorder typical symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

As the number of cases with COVID-19 rises, we all see an increasing number of patients, friends, and contacts, who are infected. 

My wife, who is a general practitioner, pointed me to an observation some days ago. She oversees several patients, who have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 and all of them show an interesting similarity. They all report either persistent or transient taste and olfactory impairment. 

While this is not uncommon in the setting of rhinitis and the “common cold”, olfactory and taste disorders occur in the absence of rhinitis in these patients. With this information, I asked an additional two COVID-19 “victims”—a Mother and her son—and they reported the same.

More reports

As a matter of fact, there are now also some reports and articles from several sources in Germany and Austria, which support this finding. 

Why could this be important?

Differentiation of COVID-19 from other forms of infection is important: it would allow us to apply testing more accurately. And since patients developed these symptoms early in the course of the disease, this would also allow early implementation of isolation. 

In my view, this finding deserves more attention, and I would be curious to hear your thoughts. If you have infected patients, ask them specifically and post your findings here.

Best, Thomas

Edited 2020-04-04 03:13 CEST

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  1. A couple of my collegues are tested positive and they all suffered loss of taste and olfactoric ability, prior to becoming ill. All are young people. So I think it’s a relevant symptom.