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April 8, 2020

Sudden and Complete Olfactory Loss Function as a Possible Symptom of COVID-19

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neuroradiology, Lariboisière University Hospital, Paris, France
  • 2Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Lariboisière University Hospital, Paris, France
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online April 8, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.0832

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVD-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infects the human respiratory epithelial cells. The clinical features of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 included lower respiratory tract infection with fever, dry cough, and dyspnea.1 In contrast, upper respiratory tract symptoms are less common, suggesting that the cells targeted by the virus could be located in the lower respiratory tract.1

Herein we present a case where the main symptom expressed by the patient infected by SARS-CoV-2 was the sudden and complete loss of the olfactory function without nasal obstruction.

A woman in her 40s presented with an acute loss of the olfactory function without nasal obstruction. There was no dysgeusia because the patient reported no changes in salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. A few days before presentation, she also experienced a dry cough associated with cephalalgia and myalgia. She had no fever or rhinorrhea. The otoscopic and anterior rhinoscopic examination results (without endoscopic examination) were normal.