The Single Most Reliable Sign You Have COVID-19, Research Shows

This coronavirus symptom may be the most telltale sign that you have the virus.

circle

There are many symptoms and signs of COVID-19, and they don't always look the same from person-to-person. Some people experience a wide range of symptoms, while others experience no symptoms at all. But if you are symptomatic, what is the biggest indicator that you do have the coronavirus and not just some other illness? According to new research, the single most reliable sign you have COVID-19 is losing your sense of smell.

Per a May study published in the Nature Medicine journal, nearly 65 percent of COVID-19 patients reported anosmia, or the loss of smell, as their first coronavirus symptom. And research from a collection of COVID-19 studies found that loss of smell was more than 20 times more likely to predict a positive case of the coronavirus than other commonly reported symptoms such as cough, fever, or stuffy nose.

"My impression is that anosmia is an earlier symptom of COVID-19, relative to fever, and some infected people can have anosmia and nothing else," physician Andrew Badley, head of a virus lab at the Mayo Clinic, told Stat.

Anosmia or smell blindness, loss of the ability to smell, one of the possible symptoms of covid-19, infectious disease caused by corona virus. Woman Trying to Sense Smell of a Lemon
iStock

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists the loss of smell as a "less common symptom" of the coronavirus, compared to what they list as "more common symptoms," which are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. According to the Nature Medicine study, done by a team of King's College London scientists, loss of smell should actually be included on the top of the list of common symptoms.

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

Unfortunately, many people may not realize they have lost part of their sense of smell, which is why experts told Stat that scratch-and-sniff tests could be a reliable addition to temperature checks in order to weed out possibly infected persons.

In a Mayo Clinic report of several studies, they found that 41 percent of patients had reported loss of smell either partly or completely—but when using testing measures like the scratch-and-sniff, they found that the rate of anosmia was actually 2.3 times higher, making it clear that many patients didn't realize they were experiencing this telltale symptom. If adequately tested for, this symptom may be the most reliable sign that a person is experiencing a COVID-19 infection. And for more coronavirus symptoms, discover The New Coronavirus Symptom That's Appearing Weeks After You Get Sick.

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.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
Filed Under
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE