You Need to Self-Isolate for at Least 7 Days If You Have This Symptom

Researchers say one specific symptom is a key predictor of coronavirus.

You should know by now that COVID-19 may present in flu-like symptoms, including a persistent cough, fever, and shortness of breath. But one surprising sign of the disease stands out from among the rest: the loss of taste or smell. Now, medical experts have discovered that this symptom is far more prevalent in coronavirus patients than originally believed. And if you experience a loss of loss of taste or smell, it's advised that you self-quarantine for at least a week to prevent spreading the virus.

In an article published in The Lancet, researchers from King's College London say that anosmia (loss of taste and smell) plays an important role in detecting COVID-19. They analyzed data from the COVID Symptom Study app and found that of 76,260 people who tested positive for coronavirus, nearly 30 percent never reported any fever or cough and 16 percent experienced loss of smell but not fever or cough. Yet, the incidence of loss of taste and smell was three times higher (65 percent) in individuals who tested positive than those who tested negative, meaning that anosmia is the strongest predictor of infection.

Couple sitting on couch and eating Chinese food
Shutterstock/DC Studio

"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. So, if you suddenly notice a change in your senses, it's best to take precautions and self-isolate for at least seven days to prevent further spread.

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The researchers also explain that anosmia would be a key screening tool in hospitals, airports, schools, and nursing homes. They even estimate that the symptom will help trace 16 percent of cases that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

"Our data suggests that low-cost so-called 'smell the difference' screening tests… would capture a larger number of positive cases than temperature sensors do," Spector said in the statement. "We therefore feel that it should form part of a wider public health approach to reducing the infection rate." And for more side effects to keep an eye on, check out The One Coronavirus Symptom That Predicts How Bad Your Case Will Be.

Filed Under