This Surprising Household Item Can Help You Figure Out If You Have COVID

Instead of blaming the product for not working, consider seeing a doctor.

Winter is coming and that means a couple of things: 1) It's time to cozy up at home with your favorite movie, warmest blanket, and a holiday-scented candle, and 2) Coronavirus numbers are climbing to heights we haven't seen before in this pandemic. While those thoughts might not seem related, a researcher with the Harvard Study of Adult Development has made a connection between the two. If your favorite scented candles aren't giving off their usual aromas, think twice before blaming the product: your inability to smell scented candles might be a red flag that you've got COVID. Read on to see how this discovery was sniffed out, and for more COVID news, check out This Type of Face Mask Isn't Protecting You From COVID, WHO Warns.

The connection between candles and coronavirus was originally sparked when Kate Petrova, a research assistant with the Harvard Study of Adult Development at Bryn Mawr College, was browsing social media and noticed a funny tweet, The Washington Post reports. "There are angry ladies all over Yankee Candle's site reporting that none of the candles they just got had any smell at all," Terri Nelson, an Oregon-based cartoonist and science illustrator, tweeted on Nov. 24. "I wonder if they're feeling a little hot and nothing has much taste for the last couple days too."

While the tweet might have been meant as a joke, Petrova began scouring 20,000 reviews of the most popular scented candles sold on Amazon. The results showed that reviews left in 2019 averaged between four and four and a half stars, but since the coronavirus pandemic began in Jan. 2020, most products have seen their averages drop by a full star. Unscented candle reviews, however, have remained unchanged.

"Since the beginning of 2020, customer satisfaction with scented candles has been dropping at a much faster rate compared to unscented candles," Petrova tweeted.

She noticed that customers have been specifically describing candles with terms such as "can't smell," "no scent," or "no smell"—which might signify a connection with one of COVID-19's most common symptoms, loss of smell, also known as anosmia. Petrova found that the proportion of scented candle reviews containing these terms nearly tripled from less than two percent in January to six percent in November.

"It is rare, at least in my line of work, to stumble upon an anecdotal observation that can be examined using such vast amounts of easily accessible data," said Petrova, who called the findings of her strictly casual research "strongly suggestive."

Even if you can still pick up the essence of lilac coming from your favorite candle, there are other subtle ways to tell you've caught COVID. Read on for some key signs, and for more on how your genes could be lowering your pandemic risk, check out If You Have One of These Blood Types, You May Be Safe From COVID.

Read the original article on Best Life.

You lose your sense of taste.

Man not eating upset because he lost his sense of taste

The senses of smell and taste are physiologically linked, and mounting evidence has shown that loss of the ability to taste is another highly common symptom of COVID-19. According to an October study from University College London published in the journal PLoS Medicine, 77.7 percent of patients who test positive for the disease experience a loss of taste.

"Our findings show that loss of smell and taste is a highly reliable indicator that someone is likely to have COVID-19," Rachel Batterham, MD, study leader from University College London and University College London Hospitals, said in a statement. "It should now be considered by governments globally as a criterion for self-isolation, testing, and contact tracing." And speaking of isolating and contact tracing, find out why The CDC Just Loosened One of Its Longest-Running Rules.

Or you can't distinguish certain tastes.

Woman tasting food she is making before seasoning

While COVID-19 may cause the loss of taste, it does so differently than a case of the flu, which is caused by nasal passages being blocked. In the case of the novel coronavirus, some tastes may become muted or harder to distinguish rather than disappearing completely, with research showing bitter or sweet flavors may be harder to taste than normal.

In a study published in the journal Rhinology that looked at 10 COVID-19 patients, 10 people with heavy colds, and a group of 10 healthy people, researchers found that COVID-19 patients "were not able to identify bitter or sweet tastes." They added: "In fact it was this loss of true taste which seemed to be present in the COVID-19 patients compared to those with a cold." And for more on why it's important to pay attention to potential red flags, check out Here's How Likely You Are to Catch COVID in the Next Month, Expert Says.

You can't smell shampoo, coffee, or other everyday items.

Woman holding cup of coffee

If your morning cup of joe isn't perking you up or your notice your favorite shampoo suddenly doesn't have the same delightful scent to it, take note: Like candles, these items can be a huge tip-off that your anosmia has set in due to coronavirus. "People who notice a loss in their ability to smell everyday household odors such as garlic, coffee, and perfumes should self-isolate and seek PCR testing," Batterham said in a statement.

Looking for other household items that could work as a quick smell test? A study from India released in September found that people who had difficulty smelling peppermint and coconut oil were most likely to later test positive for coronavirus. And for more regular COVID updates, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Your ears are ringing.

ear, smallest bone in the body

It's not just your nose and tongue that can be affected by COVID-19: Research has shown that your ears could suffer, too. A U.K. study from July that surveyed 121 adults who had been hospitalized because of severe coronavirus symptoms found that eight weeks after being discharged, 13 percent of those patients reported hearing loss and/or tinnitus—AKA ringing in one's ears.

"We already know that viruses such as measles, mumps, and meningitis can cause hearing loss, and coronaviruses can damage the nerves that carry information to and from the brain," Kevin Munro, PhD, a professor of audiology at the University of Manchester and lead author of the study, said in a statement. "It is possible, in theory, that COVID-19 could cause problems with parts of the auditory system including the middle ear or cochlea." And for more on the signs you could be sick, here are 4 Easy-To-Miss Symptoms That Could Mean You Have COVID.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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