Do I Have COVID Or A Cold?

If you've lost your sense of smell or taste, you may be wondering if you have COVID or just a common cold. Here are some tips on what you can do next.
ADVENT Thoughtful Confused Woman Looking Away Isolated Over Yellow
Reviewed by
Published on
December 3, 2020
Updated on
October 31, 2022

Lose your sense of smell or taste? Wondering if you might have COVID-19 or just a common cold?

Have you experienced a loss of smell?

In this COVID-era world we're living in, this has become the most common question we're receiving as ENT professionals. And believe it or not, this was a common symptom many people experienced before COVID-19.

Is It a Cold or COVID?

Since the very beginning days of COVID, scientists in China found a frequent connection between the virus and the loss of smell.

When you experience a loss of smell, or anosmia, you may jump to the conclusion that you have been afflicted with the Coronavirus but it may very well be as simple as a run-of-the-mill cold.

However, it's important that you take some precautions until you know for sure. It's recommended that you get tested for COVID-19 and that you isolate until you receive your results to prevent possibly spreading the illness.

More than half of those with COVID are experiencing this symptom, and it's often the first - and sometimes only - symptom they get. Even those who are asymptomatic oftentimes experience this subtle side effect.

Why Did I Lose My Sense Of Smell?

The sense of smell comes from the top of the nose. As we continue learning about the Coronavirus, we've found that the virus attaches to all parts of the nose, creating inflammation and causing damage. Similarly, with the common cold, anosmia is caused by swelling or blockage that prevents odors from reaching this part of the nose.

And because your sense of smell is connected to your sense of taste, this is a related indicator that something may be wrong. It's important that you take action if you notice a loss or dulling of these senses.

I Lost My Sense Of Smell...Is It Permanent?  

Understandably, people experiencing a loss of the sense of smell want to know how long it's going to last. In some severe cases the loss of smell can be permanent, however studies are showing that most people regain their sense of smell within a few weeks or months.

A permanent loss may be unlikely, however, it can have a devastating impact on your life. Imagine not being able to decipher if your milk has gone bad by using taste and smell. Or something more serious, like smelling the smoke of a house fire or a gas leak. Your sense of smell is something not to be taken for granted.

Loss of Smell: What To Do Next  

Again, if you're experiencing any symptoms, it's important that you take action and get tested for COVID and quarantine yourself until you get your results back.

First published by ADVENT on
December 3, 2020
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Do I Have COVID Or A Cold?