Not sure if you have COVID-19 or the common cold/flu?
ome of the earliest signs of Covid-19 infection can be the loss of smell and taste. There are, however, signs that it could just be the common cold. Covid-19 or Flu? We had a look at some studies to see how you can tell the difference.
The medical term for the loss of smell is anosmia, and the failure of taste is ageusia. These are two of the symptoms of a Covid-19 infection and can tell signs that you may be infected. Many infected patients noted this as the first symptom and not a fever or cough more commonly expected.
COVID-19 or Flu?
According to a new statement by the US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, MPH , Covid-19 patients are 27 times more likely to experience a loss of smell. This is compared to up to 2,6 times more likely to have a fever, cough, or have trouble breathing, than patients without Covid-19. A reported average of 47% of positive patients noticed a loss of smell or taste. These numbers soared to as high as 80% of patients in some studies. When doctors tested patients using tests only based on the sense of smell, most patients responded positively. As this is also linked to a sense of taste, they are often associated with each other.
In an Italian study of 187 Covid-19 positive patients who had a mild case of the infection and did not require any hospitalization, 113 of them reported a change in their sense of smell. A month later, 55 patients said their sense of smell and taste had fully recovered, while 46 of them reported some improvement. The balance showed no change in symptoms or even a worsening of symptoms.
In another study, Covid-19 patients that had a usual sense of smell tended to have worse symptoms than those who lost their sense of smell, often requiring ventilation. It suggests that patients who lost their sense of taste and smell tended to have a milder form of the disease than those who did not.
These findings suggest that a loss of smell or taste may be a sign of an asymptomatic carrier of the disease. As the younger population made up most of these patients, this can now be recognized as a key symptom and possibly the only sign of the patient’s disease.
It is unknown what causes the loss of sense of smell or taste with the Covid-19 virus, but it is believed to affect the supporting cells rather than directly affecting the neurons controlling these senses. An infection causes the supporting cells of the olfactory neurons to change, thereby reducing their function. But once the infection is cleared, their regular operation resumes.
There are a few recommendations for treating patients who have suffered a loss of smell due to the Covid-19 infection.
If they have had a loss of smell for less than three months, they can continue to be treated by their general physician. If this exceeds three months, they should consult with an ENT. Olfactory training can be done for patients who have suffered a loss of these senses for more than two weeks.
An MRI of their brain is recommended for any patients who have lost their sense of smell due to a Covid-19 infection, regardless of the length of time they have suffered the loss of smell or taste.
As your dental health professionals, your well-being is important to us. We are opening the office slowly, and hope to be back to full operation soon. Feel free to reach out and call the office should you have any concerns or questions on 561-482-7008.
Please feel free to call us at Elite Boca Dental if you have a dental emergency.
Here is a link should you wish to find out more about the Corona Virus .
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