OU Medical Center doctor discusses loss of smell, taste in connection to coronavirus

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Loss of smell and taste is said to be a commonly reported symptom of COVID-19 but when should you be concerned?

An ear, nose and throat specialist based at OU Medical Center says there’s simply not enough evidence yet to guarantee that if you lose your senses of taste and smell that you have coronavirus but they are working on finding out more. 

“We’ve been collecting data since the end of March about our patients who we’re testing that have loss of smell at the time that they’re tested,” said Dr. Greg Krempl. 

He says OU Medical Center hasn’t studied a volume of patients yet for him to feel comfortable analyzing the data but the University of California San Diego recently conducted a study of 60 patients on this loss of symptoms.

“What they showed was alarming,” Krempl said. “72 percent of the patients with the COVID virus had a change in their taste and 68% of patients that were COVID positive had a change in their smell.”

Krempl adds that things like the flu, allergies or sinus infections can also cause a loss of taste and smell, so you should be on the lookout for other symptoms of COVID-19.

“Primarily that would be the fever, the cough, the shortness of breath,” he said. 

But he says just because you don’t have those additional symptoms doesn’t mean you don’t have a mild case of coronavirus.

“Some of the reports coming out of the UK would suggest that about 20% of the patients who had loss of smell and the virus had no other symptoms associated with it,” said Krempl. “So it may be something that’s helpful for us in identifying those people at risk to spread it.”

He suggests using Jelly Beans to test your taste.

Hold your nostrils closed and chew, see if you can taste, then release.

Krempl says studies show senses return to most patients and that typically happens in one to four weeks.

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