Take a Covid-19 smell and taste test

CAPE TOWN- A recent study has shown that a loss of smell and taste appears to be one of the most common Covid-19 symptoms.

The study which can be found in Nature Medicine, collected data from more than 2.5 million people living in the United States and the United Kingdom via an app, called the Covid Symptom Study, between March 24 and April 21.

On the app, 7 178 people reported that they had contracted the Coronavirus and 65 percent of those who tested positive reported a loss of smell and taste. 

Although the loss of smell and taste was a common symptom in the study, the World Health Organisation considered it a less common symptom

A Cape Town doctor and Covid-19 survivor, Dr Leila Amien, said that when she realised that she lost her sense of smell and taste she called on her parents to line up some strong smelling and tasting foods to perform her own Covid-19 smell test.

“My dad excitedly brought Niknaks and my mom brought crushed garlic and ginger. The funny part though is before I told my mom that I lost my sense of taste, her food presentation was immaculate. However, after I told her about my loss of taste, it seemed like the food standards had deteriorated because she knew I couldn’t taste it anyway,” she humorously. 

The ‘jellybean test’

Director of the Center for Smell and Taste at the University of Florida, Steven Munger spoke to CNN about the ‘jellybean test’ and how people can test their sense of taste and smell.

Munger suggests holding a jellybean in one hand, and with the other hand hold your nose tightly so that no air can flow in or out. Then put the jellybean in your mouth and chew. If you get both the savoury and the sweetness of the jellybean, you know that you can taste it properly. 

While still chewing, suddenly release your nose and if you can smell the flavour of the jellybean your sense of smell is good. 

If you don’t have a jellybean at hand, you can use other foods to smell and taste as well. For example, if you can test your sense of smell by seeing if you can smell coffee brewing or smell an orange being peeled. Strong tasting foods such as garlic or ginger may also be used.  

Not everyone who experiences a loss of smell or taste is going to have coronavirus. Any respiratory virus, such as cold or flu, may temporarily impact smell and taste. It is advised that if you do experience Covid-19 symptoms to see your doctor, get tested for Covid-19 and self-isolate for 14 days. 



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