Can’t smell your Thanksgiving dinner? You might need a COVID-19 test

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FILE – This Nov. 2, 2009, file photo shows a Thanksgiving turkey in Concord, N.H. Food safety experts say raw turkeys shouldn’t be rinsed, since that can spread harmful bacteria. Cooking should kill any germs. But bacteria can still spread in other ways, so washing and sanitizing hands and surfaces is still important. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe, File)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Cinnamon. Pine. Peppermint. Scents that indicate the holiday season have arrived. But what if you can’t smell anything?

A sudden loss of smell or taste is one of the earliest and most commonly reported indicators of COVID-19. Studies found loss of smell better predicts the disease than other familiar symptoms such as a cough or fever.

A paper published by medical researchers in England emphasizes the importance for healthcare workers to wear personal protective equipment when seeing patients whose only symptom is loss of smell, a condition known as anosmia.

“I have personally seen four patients this week, all under 40, and otherwise asymptomatic except for
the recent onset of anosmia – I usually see roughly no more than one a month. I think these
patients may be some of the hitherto hidden carriers that have facilitated the rapid spread of
COVID-19,” writes Professor Nirmal Kumar, President of ENT UK at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

Dozens of viruses, including the cold and flu, can reduce your ability to smell.

Sinus infections and nasal polyps are also a cause. It’s also common to lost your sense of smell as you get older. But those develop over time.

COVID-19 symptoms are different because they occur suddenly.

So if you sit down to dinner, take a deep sniff, and if can’t smell anything, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests contacting your physician to see if you should be tested for COVID-19. If other symptoms are present, seek medical help.

Loss of taste or smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery. The CDC says it isn’t a reason to stay in isolation after the recommended 10-day period has passed.

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