Tags: Coronavirus | Coronavirus Special | Health Topics | Cold/Flu | harvard | hyposmia | anosmia

Scientists Discover How COVID-19 Robs Patients of Their Sense of Smell

hyposmia anosmia, loss of sense of smell Info graphic elements the signs of coronavirus symptoms
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By    |   Tuesday, 28 July 2020 04:02 PM

Many COVID-19 patients worldwide have revealed one of their first symptoms was losing their sense of smell. Until now, scientists were baffled by how a virus can rob you of your senses. However, researchers at Harvard Medical School have discovered the temporary loss of smell, called anosmia, is one of the main neurological symptoms and one of the earliest and most commonly reported signs of COVID-19.

According to Harvard Medical School, loss of smell is a better indicator of coronavirus than other symptoms such as fever and cough. The Harvard researchers pinpointed exactly which olfactory, or sense of smell, cells were affected by the virus. They found the ACE2 receptor protein on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, binds to the structural cells of the nose, and not the sensory neurons themselves.

Dr. Sandeep Robert Datta, senior author of the new research study that was published in the journal Science Advances said:

"I think this is good news, because once the infection clears, olfactory neurons don’t appear to need to be replaced or rebuilt from scratch."

According to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, Datta said the findings of his team demonstrated that loss of smell in COVID-19 patients was not due to the infection destroying the neurons themselves but attacking the supporting cells. According to the Daily Mail, one in 10 people who get mildly sick from the virus still struggle to smell or taste a month after illness.

Another researcher, Dr. Claire Hopkins, told the BBC, "Data from other viral illnesses, and some of the new data we are gathering, suggest the vast majority of people will get better, but for some, recovery will be slow."

She added, those who regain their sense of smell more quickly most likely had damage to just the cells lining their nose. Others, who struggle to regain their sense of smell, might have had nerve damage.

The study results might help develop effective treatment for anosmia and its diagnosis, according to Harvard Medical School.

"Anosmia seems like a curious phenomenon, but it can be devasting for the small fraction of people in whom it’s persistent," said Datta, who is an associate professor of neurobiology. "It can have serious psychological consequences and could be a major public health problem if we have a growing population with permanent loss of smell."

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Researchers at Harvard Medical School have discovered the temporary loss of smell, called anosmia, is one of the main neurological symptoms and one of the earliest and most commonly reported signs of COVID-19.
harvard, hyposmia, anosmia, smell, taste, neurological, symptoms, covid-19, pandemic
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2020-02-28
Tuesday, 28 July 2020 04:02 PM
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