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Tufts University School of Medicine

Something Wrong With Your Sniffer? It Could Be the Coronavirus

If you’re not congested but have trouble recognizing strong scents, such as lemon, you might want to call your doctor about getting tested for COVID-19. Photo: Shutterstock
Friday, December 11, 2020 - 7:00pm

COVID-19 has many symptoms, including fever, coughing, and fatigue. But one of the more distinctive signs is the loss of the ability to smell. We’re not talking about the usual “stuffy nose” that goes along with a cold, but an inability to process scent even when you’re not congested. People have reported that not being able to smell their own perfume or finding no aroma in their cup of mint tea was their first clue that they might be infected.

James Schwob, a professor of developmental, molecular, and chemical biology at Tufts University School of Medicine, researches the olfactory system and the roughly 1,000 types of neurons that are involved in our ability to register odors both good and bad.

Right now, he is studying tissue from COVID-19 patients to better understand how the virus leads to anosmia, or loss of sense of smell. Tufts Now talked to Schwob about what we know about viruses and their effects on sense of smell.

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