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This is the #1 Indicator You Have Coronavirus, Study Shows

It’s not shortness of breath or a dry cough.
health problem and people concept - indian man rubbing nose over grey background

If you've been sick in the last three months, chances are you've been concerned you may have COVID-19. Every sniffle, cough, or rash has been a cause for alarm—and it should be. The coronavirus can be fatal (for you and those around you), so get tested if you fear you have it. However, there's one symptom that most coronavirus patients have that can't be mistaken for much anything else, and a new study says it's the number one indicator you have coronavirus: a loss of taste or smell.

It's a "Weird Symptom"

"It's just such a weird symptom that doesn't occur with most other diseases so it's rarely wrong," said Dr. Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London and a lead author of the study told the New York Times. The research was done by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and King's College London.

Harvard breaks down the methodology: "In the work, published recently in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers used data from about 18,000 participants who had been tested for SARS-CoV-2 to understand which symptoms were most common in those who had tested positive. They found that loss of taste and smell were reported by most of those tested, about 65 percent, and that the most predictive group of symptoms was loss of smell and taste, fatigue, persistent cough, and loss of appetite."

The researchers then, according to Harvard, "applied their model to more than 800,000 study participants who had not been tested and determined that about 140,000 of them were likely infected with the virus, just over 5 percent of the entire study population."

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Know Your 11 Symptoms

The data was collected from an app in which users self-reported their symptoms. Scientists hope such apps will make it easier to track and trace the coronavirus as it spreads. The new program is free and can be downloaded via the Apple or Google app stores.

The loss of your taste or smell or taste has been well document as the coronavius has spread. The CDC now lists a new loss of taste or smell on their official list of symptoms, and "the eleven symptoms on their list are symptoms which are not uncommon at the best of times and have a wide differential diagnosis," says Dr. Deborah Lee. "Hence, the CDC suggests some are even more likely to signify COVID-19 if two or more are present." Their list list:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional and discuss your condition. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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