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Many Questions Remain About COVID-19 Patients’ Loss of Sense of Smell

MONDAY, April 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — It’s unclear how long it will take COVID-19 patients who’ve lost their sense of smell to regain it, an expert says.

While there are anecdotal reports that losing the sense of smell may be among the symptoms of COVID-19 — the illness caused by the new coronavirus — there’s little information on how common that symptom is or how long it could last, CNN reported.

Many people with COVID-19 who lost their sense of smell weeks ago are still waiting for it to return, but when that might happen is unknown, said Steven Munger, director of the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste.

“What we’ve known for a long time is one of the major causes of smell loss are upper respiratory tract infections due to viruses — a common cold, influenza — a subset of people lose their sense of smell, most of them temporarily, but a small subset lose that smell permanently,” Munger told CNN.

The return of the sense of smell “might take days, it might take weeks, sometimes it even takes months to years on rare occasions. Sometimes it’s gradual, sometimes it is all at once, and we don’t really know why that is,” he said.

Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, is trying to convince the World Health Organization to recognize loss of sense of smell as a COVID-19 symptom along with cough and fever.

Hopkins had King’s College London include loss of sense of smell in a coronavirus symptom-tracking app. The school’s findings were released April 1 and showed that loss of sense of smell or taste is a stronger predictor of coronavirus infection than fever, CNN reported.

The tracking app revealed that of about 400,000 people in the U.K. who reported one or more symptoms between March 24 and 29, 18% had lost their sense of smell or taste, while 10.5% had fever.

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