Lost sense of smell may be peculiar clue to coronavirus infection

Doctors suspect that anosmia and ageusia — the loss of smell and taste, respectively — may be a giveaway for coronavirus infection, even if no other symptoms are present. The evidence to date is largely anecdotal, the experts acknowledge, but the implications are grave.

Doctors suspect that anosmia and ageusia — the loss of smell and taste, respectively — may be a giveaway for coronavirus infection, even if no other symptoms are present. The evidence to date is largely anecdotal, the experts acknowledge, but the implications are grave. The American Academy of Otolaryngology conveyed the information to members via its website over the weekend. The post advised that patients who lose their sense of smell or taste but do not have allergies or sinusitis should be screened for COVID-19 and also should self-quarantine. "There is evolving evidence that otolaryngologists are among the highest risk group when performing upper airway surgeries and examinations," the academy reported. "A high rate of transmission of COVID-19 to otolaryngologists has been reported from China, Italy and Iran, many resulting in death." Most ear, nose and throat doctors are already taking precautions, according to Rachel Kaye, MD, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at Rutgers University, noting that her own department has started using personal protective equipment and stopped performing nonessential examinations.