Coronavirus: 2 odours that people with COVID are not able to smell, according to researchers
Courtesy Times of India
As we enter the 10th month of the pandemic and novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the globe, it has been well established by now that the novel contagion manifests itself in absolutely bizarre ways. While earlier dry cough, fever and unexplained exhaustion were considered the hallmarks of the disease, loss of smell and taste has now been identified as one of the telltale symptoms of COVID-19. This significant loss of taste in the absence of runny nose or any other signs of cold and cough is now being considered one of the hallmarks of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
What do the researchers have to say about the loss of smell from COVID-19?
Given that loss of smell has been previously associated with a bad bout of cold and cough, it becomes extremely important to understand how the loss of smell after getting infected with novel coronavirus actually feels like. A lot of researchers believe that anosmia (loss of smell) with novel coronavirus is an early warning sign of infection. However, recent groundbreaking research conducted by the researchers from the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute Mohali and the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research Chandigarh has found that those infected with COVID-19 are not able to smell or detect only certain odours and fragrances.
How did the researchers develop the “smell test” for COVID-19?
According to a report published in The Print, researchers made use of five different types of aromas, commonly present in all Indian households to develop a “smell test”. These five fragrances were selected on the basis of an online survey where a list of 30 aromas was presented to 100 individuals and they were asked to choose the ones they can identify most easily. On the basis of the results, five aromas were finally chosen for the smell test i.e. garlic, peppermint, cardamom, coconut oil and fennel.
How was the study conducted ?
To conduct the study, the aromas were filled in tubes and packed in bags and the volunteers of the study were given a response sheet to fill whether or not, they were able to smell and identify odourants present in the bag. To conduct the study 49 asymptomatic coronavirus patients and 35 individuals who did not have COVID-19 were asked to take the smell test.
As per the report published in The Print, another follow-up experiment was conducted to confirm the findings of the study, where the order of the aromas was changed and water was also added in the smell test.
What did the researchers find ?
The researchers found that while those who get infected with COVID-19 do experience a loss of smell, they may not lose the perception of their smell completely. As per the study, only 4.1 per cent of the participants were unable to identify any of the five aromas present in the smell test, 38.8 per cent of them were unable to identify at least one of the aromas and 16 per cent were not able to pinpoint two odourants.
When compared to the healthy participants, all of them were able to smell the aromas used in the smell test, even though 14 per cent of the healthy volunteers were unable to correctly identify at least one of the smell.
The two odourants that COVID-19 patients were not able to smell
After conducting the study, the researchers narrowed the two aromas that COVID-19 patients were unable to detect i.e. coconut oil and the scent of peppermint. The team believes that this smell test can help in identifying asymptomatic COVID-19 patients. While further research needs to be done to randomise these testing kits and create a final output, the researchers believe that this method can also be used at home.
To do, one may identify a particular set of aromas at home and smell them every day. Any loss of smell can alert the individual and help them take the necessary precautions.