Losing sense of taste and smell was telltale sign of COVID-19 for SF woman

ByJuan Carlos Guerrero KGO logo
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
SF woman temporarily loses sense of taste, smell due to COVID-19
A San Francisco woman who became infected with COVID-19 didn't just get a fever and a dry cough, she also temporarily lost her sense of taste and smell. Other coronavirus victims are reporting similar experiences.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KGO) -- (Multimedia producer Juan Carlos Guerrero has been keeping a video diary since his wife, Maria Leticia Gomez, got sick about what life is like living with coronavirus. You can see the other stories here.)

I've been making food for my wife since she got sick on March 13 because she has been in self-quarantine in our bedroom. But something strange happened that first day when she got a fever.

Coronavirus Diary: Quarantined SF family shares daily updates about what it's like to be tested, isolated due to COVID-19 fears

I had made chicken soup, but being Mexican, I added too many serrano peppers wanting to make it tastier. When I tried the soup it seemed too spicy even for me, and I have a higher tolerance for spiciness than my wife does. So I was afraid she would be upset that it was too spicy for her to eat. Instead, her reaction surprised me.

"It's bland," she complained. We were confused.

Over the next few days, after her fever went down, she complained that food was tasteless and even the toothpaste tasted bland.

Then, after we were notified she tested positive for COVID-19, we saw an article that some coronavirus patients lost their sense of taste and smell during their infection. That was an "aha" moment for us.

That is when she confessed to me that her sense of smell had also been affected. She had not told me because she did not want to worry me. But now, that we have more insight, she shared her concern.

"One day when I took a shower, I got dressed like if I was going to work, to feel normal. And I put some perfume on and could not smell anything. I even put the bottle to my nose and nothing. Now I know it was because of COVID-19."

RELATED: San Francisco family has unexpected reaction after a long wait for coronavirus test result

The diminished sense of taste and smell caused by COVID-19 is still anecdotal. But enough people have been reporting it that British doctors are asking adults who lose their sense of smell to isolate themselves for seven days to avoid spreading the disease.

On Sunday, the American Academy of Otolaryngology posted on its website that proposes anosmia (the loss of sense of smell) and dysgeusia (the loss of taste) be added to the list of symptoms that should be considered for a possible COVID-19 infection.

For my wife, knowing that the loss of some senses was caused by the coronavirus was actually a sense of relief.

"I thought it might be my brain tumor was growing and had affected my sense of smell and I thought what's next. I'm glad it was just COVID-19."

Leticia has regained most of her sense of taste and smell. The San Francisco Public Health Department said that since she has not had a fever for 72 hours, has diminishing symptoms and seven days have passed since the onset of her illness, she meets all the criteria to end her quarantine on Friday.