The No. 1 Warning Sign Coronavirus Is in Your Body

This specific symptom could be hinting that you have COVID-19.

There is an extensive list of COVID-19 warning signs that seems to continue to grow by the day as more and more research about the coronavirus emerges. From COVID toes to confusion, patients are experiencing a variety of symptoms when they contract the COVID-19 virus. But a new study found that there was one early tell-tale sign that the large majority of coronavirus patients experienced: the loss of taste or smell. According to the study, published in the journal Natural Medicine, 65 percent of people who tested positive for coronavirus reported the loss of taste and smell as their first symptoms.

To conduct their research, scientists out of King's College London and Massachusetts General Hospital examined the data from the COVID Symptom Study app where people can track their coronavirus symptoms. The app was found to be extremely "effective in predicting coronavirus infections among the 2.5 million people who were using it between March 24 and April 21," according to The New York Times. After analyzing the data, researchers found that the loss of taste or smell was the foremost predictor of whether someone was going to develop COVID-19.

"We believe that loss of smell and taste is a very common COVID-19 symptom and in fact, occurs more often than fever and lasts longer—five days on average compared to only two for fever," lead author Tim Spector, MS, professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London, said in a statement.

Man lost smell coffee

The researchers used a mathematical equation to predict how likely a person was to have COVID-19 based solely on their age, sex, and a combination of the most prevalent symptoms: loss of smell or taste, cough, fatigue, and a loss of appetite. The model was able to predict COVID-19 cases with almost 80 percent accuracy.

Another study of COVID-19 patients at Kantonsspital Aarau in Aarau, Switzerland, that was published in the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery yielded similar results. In those findings, 61 percent of COVID-19 patients surveyed reported reduced or lost sense of smell.

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While a loss of smell can often occur during a viral infection, a loss of taste is a less common symptom. "Losing sense of taste is from a completely different nerve system, a different disease process," Joseph K. Han, MD, professor of Otolaryngology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, told U.S. News & World Report. But, in the case of coronavirus, these symptoms often come as a package.

So, if you begin to feel your sense of smell or taste fading, consider getting tested for coronavirus. And for more on how the loss of smell could help diagnose COVID-19, check out The One Coronavirus Symptom That Predicts How Bad Your Case Will Be.

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