What you need to know about the possible smell/taste link to COVID-19

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Steven Munger, Ph.D, director of the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste, located within UF’s McKnight Brain Institute, what science can tell us about the potential link — and what to do if it happens to you.Steven Munger, Ph.D, director of the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste, located within UF’s McKnight Brain Institute

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That said, don’t ignore a loss of smell or taste.

If you suddenly feel like you can’t smell or taste, “the prudent thing to do is self-isolate and immediately call your physician, or one of the various hotlines set up for reporting COVID-19,” Munger says. “Act like you’re infected until directed otherwise by your physician.”

Smell and taste scientists are on it.

While you normally don’t hear much about them, non-COVID-19 taste and smell deficiencies are fairly common: 13% of U.S. adults over 40 have a significant smell disorder. In the past few days, scientists and clinicians around the world who study smell and taste have banded together to fast-track gathering data on the phenomenon as related to COVID-19 and to develop tests patients can do at home.

Once we know more, it could be a useful indicator.

“It could be as simple as scratch-and-sniff tests sent to homes that people take themselves and report to their physician,” Munger says. “It might be a useful and safe way, along with other symptoms like body temperature and coughing, to get a better understanding of who should be tested for COVID-19.”