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The hidden symptom of coronavirus that nobody’s talking about

by Edaein OConnell
31st Mar 2020

A cough, shortness of breath and fever are the main symptoms of coronavirus, but there could be one more warning sign we may be ignoring

We are all well aware of the main symptoms of Covid-19 by now. These include a cough, shortness of breath and fever.

However, there is one symptom that is becoming more common as the cases increase across the globe. This sign is a sudden loss of smell and is not caused by a blocked nose.

Although not widely spoken of, it is one that has appeared in many countries. According to a report by ENT UK – an organisation which represents ear, nose and throat surgeons – more than two-thirds of those in Germany suffering from coronavirus have lost their sense of smell. While 30% of those in South Korea presented with anosmia.

These ENT doctors have urged health authorities to advise people with a sudden loss of smell or taste to self-isolate, even if no other symptoms are present.


The symptom is particularly prevalent among the young who may not experience the more obvious symptoms of the virus. Speaking to AFP, Claire Hopkins the president of the British Rhinological Society said: “We all started to note an increase in patients who were young and otherwise completely asymptomatic presenting with new onset sense of smell loss.”

Last week, nine out of 20 patients she saw had lost their sense of smell. She also said the warning signs began when an Italian doctor working in the badly hit north of the country said he had seen a high number of frontline health workers with the symptom.

While German virologist Hendrik Streeck said, “It went so far that one mother could no longer smell her child’s full nappy. Others couldn’t smell their shampoo anymore and their food started to taste bland.”

Nadine Dorries, the Health Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention & MH in Britain, was diagnosed with Covid-19 earlier in the month. Following the diagnosis, she posted on Twitter that she had lost her sense of smell and taste and could only tell if what she ate or drank was cold or hot.


Other symptoms

The virus can cause a number of other symptoms which the HSE has outlined on its website along with their commonality.

These include:

Fatigue – sometimes 

Aches and pains – sometimes

Sore throat – sometimes

Headaches – sometimes

Runny or stuffy nose – rare

Diarrhoea – rare

Sneezing – never 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the HSE advises you should behave as if you have the virus and self-isolate for 14 days.

Current stats

Currently, there are 804,073 cases of Covid-19 in the world with 39,074 deaths. 172,435 have recovered. As of this afternoon, Ireland had a total of 2,910 cases with 54 deaths.

For more info visit the HSE and World Health Organisation websites.

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