Coronavirus: How to Test for Loss of Smell and Taste


A possible sign of coronavirus/COVID-19 could be the loss of smell and taste (also known as anosmia), and The Doctors share a simple way to check if your senses have been affected.

According to reports, mild South Korean cases saw 30 percent of patients losing their ability to smell and taste and in Germany more than 2 in 3 patients also experienced this.

Read: Coronavirus: Should You Clean Packages, Groceries, Take-Out Containers?

A simple method to determine if your sense of smell has been impaired is the "The Jellybean Test."

Steven Munger, director of the Center for Smell and Taste at the University of Florida tells CNN, "You take a jellybean in one hand, and with the other hand you hold your nose tightly so you're not getting any airflow...You put the jellybean in your mouth and chew it. Let's say it's a fruit flavor jellybean: if you get the savory plus the sweetness of the jellybean you'll know you have functional taste." Adding, "So if you can go from sweet and sour to the full flavor and know what the flavor is then your sense of smell is probably in pretty good shape."

Read: Will Stores Run out of Food or Pet Food Due to Coronavirus?

If you do not have any jellybeans, ENT specialist Dr. Erich Voigt says coffee or a citrus fruit can be used to check for anosmia. 

"The pure smell sense would be if you can smell a particular substance that's not stimulating other nerves," he told CNN. "So some examples of that would be if you can smell ground coffee or coffee brewing, or if you can smell someone peeling an orange. That's the smell sense."

Read: Is Take Out Safe During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

He warns that someone should not test their sense of smell with things like ammonia or cleaning solutions, explaining, "Those stimulate the trigeminal nerve, which is an irritant nerve... people will think, 'Oh, I can smell Clorox, I can smell ammonia, which means I can smell.' But no, that's not correct. They're not actually smelling, they're using the trigeminal nerve."

The Doctors note that a loss of smell and taste does not only indicate someone might have coronavirus, as it can easily be linked to a cold or the flu, as well as nasal polyps, tumors, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, or a brain or head injury. Additionally, a lack of taste can be linked to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Get more helpful resources, tips, advice and news on coronavirus/COVID-19 from The Doctors.

*Stay informed on the latest information on the coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and learn about prevention methods and what to do if you are infected.

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