According to the head of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology of the First Faculty of Medicine of Charles University and the University Hospital in Motol Jan Plzák, people with sudden olfactory loss should have quarantine ordered. According to foreign experience, worsening of the sense of smell and taste are fundamental symptoms of COVID-19, he said in a press release of the faculty.
For the time being, however, doctors and hygienists sending patients for testing have not counted on this symptom.
“In general, the most common causes of total or partial olfactory loss are viruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections, often referred to as ‘colds’.
According to him, the sense of smell can affect the mucosal inflammation caused by viruses, limit the access of inhaled air to the ceiling area of the nasal cavity, where the specialized olfactory epithelium is located, and impair the detection of smells.
“The virus can directly attack and damage the olfactory field cells in the ceiling of the nasal cavity. Another possibility is the damage of the nerve pathway through which the olfactory senses are led from the nose to the olfactory center in the brain”
The sense of smell often occurs in positively tested patients who had no other symptoms. “If the sense of smell occurs suddenly, in days, and is not associated with other obvious diseases of the nose or sinuses, there is currently a high risk of coronavirus infection,” he said.
Patients with a sense of smell but according to Plzak should not go to the doctor. In general, doctors advise people to call practitioners and specialist doctors first. The sense of smell, however, according to Plzák is not yet a symptom at the occurrence of which one could be tested for COVID-19. “Although the sudden smell may be caused by other viruses, we believe it is reasonable in the current pandemic to assume that the cause is COVID-19 until it is ruled out by testing,” he concluded.
To test for infection with a new type of coronavirus, a person with suspicion must be advised by a health center, general practitioner or pulmonary physician. At the beginning of the epidemic, the most common reason was a trip from Italy or other high-risk countries. Originally, temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius were also required and were reduced by half degrees to 37.5 degrees Celsius since last week.