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The Taste and Smell Clinic

March 2020

SMELL LOSS AFTER CORONAVIRUS INFECTION


The most common cause of smell loss is following a viral-type infection. We have observed this type of smell loss (hyposmia) in over 25% of patients we evaluate at The Taste and Smell Clinic in Washington D.C. We have attempted to isolate the virus responsible for the onset of hyposmia for many years but we have been unsuccessful in culturing any specific virus. We have attempted to do this both early in the disease process and after the flu-like illness was gone and have been unsuccessful in all attempts.

Now, for the first time, I have received an email from an adult female patient who developed influenza-like symptoms (fever, nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, etc), who went to her local physician, was tested and was found to be positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This is the first specific relationship reported between the onset of hyposmia and the presence of a specific virus that initiated the hyposmia. Further reports have now been forthcoming about the relationship of smell and taste loss to the onset of coronavirus infection. In approximately 30% of patients with this viral illness have developed smell and taste loss. Reports also occur that smell and taste loss may precede any other symptom of this viral illness. In fact, with some patients smell and taste loss are the only symptoms of this viral illness. In addition some patients are reporting dysosmia (distorted smell sensation) and dysgeusia (distorted taste sensation) along with the loss of smell and taste.


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