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What do changes in the sense of taste indicate?
Almost half of COVID-19 sufferers experience changes in their sense of taste. This finding could provide further diagnostic evidence of whether people suffer from COVID-19.
An investigation led by researchers from the University of Toledo found that changes in taste could indicate COVID-19. The results of the systematic overview were published in the English language journal "Gastroenterology".
Five studies were evaluated
For the study, the researchers analyzed the data from five studies that were carried out between mid-January and late March. Of the 817 people examined, 49.8 percent showed changes in their sense of taste. The actual prevalence could be even higher since some of the studies were based on patient record reviews, which may not have identified each symptom, the research group said.
Changes often occur
Almost half of the people who develop COVID-19 experience changes in their sense of taste. In previous studies, this symptom was not found, which was probably due to the severity of other symptoms such as cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, the researchers report. However, it is now clear that a changed or lost sense of taste also occurs, and not only in individual cases, but in a considerable part.
Changes in taste should be considered a symptom
Changes in taste, in addition to fever, shortness of breath, and cough, should be considered symptoms of COVID-19. This applies not only to people who are suspected of having COVID-19, but also to the general population in order to identify otherwise healthy people from the virus.
Often people are not aware of their illness
Previous research has shown that a significant number of people infected with the coronavirus are unaware of their condition at all. This can lead to the fact that people may spread the virus unconsciously. It is therefore important to recognize symptoms indicating the disease as early as possible.
Do changes in the sense of taste only occur in mild cases?
The research group assumes that a change in taste is more common in people with mild symptoms, although further studies are needed to confirm this suspicion. But changes in an individual's sense of taste could be a valuable way to identify people who are otherwise usually asymptomatic, the team explains.
Possible reason for changes in taste
Taste disorders are associated with a variety of viral diseases. The report did not attempt to identify the reason why COVID-19 causes changes in the taste buds of the sick. However, the researchers suspect that COVID-19's ability could bind to the so-called ACE-2 receptor, which is expressed in epithelial cells on the tongue and mouth.
Conclusion of the research work
Changes in the sense of taste can indicate an illness caused by COVID-19. If such changes are identified early, this can help curb the spread of the disease. It appears that the changed taste sensation occurs especially in mild cases of COVID-19. It is still unclear whether the disease is similar in severe cases. If you notice changes in your sense of taste, avoid contact with other people and seek urgent medical advice. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Muhammad Aziz, Abhilash Perisetti, Wade M. Lee-Smith, Mahesh Gajendran, Pardeep Bansa et al .: Taste Changes (Dysgeusia) in COVID-19: A systematic review and metaanalysis, in Gastroenterology (published May 5, 2020), Gastroenterology