Health experts have been warning the public about the dangers of a coronavirus-flu convergence during the cold seasons for months. Experts warn the COVID-19 pandemic needs to be under control before the flu starts infecting people with the upcoming winter season. Some refer to this convergence as the “twindemic,” a dual epidemic which will put added strain on the NHS. One way to avoid this is by being able to distinguish two key symptoms which signal a COVID-19 infection as opposed to just a flu. Those two symptoms are gustatory dysfunction and dyspnea. What are they?
In a study published in the National Library of Medicine, olfactory and gustatory dysfunctions as a clinical presentation of mild-to-moderate forms of COVID-19 was investigated.
The study noted: “A total of 417 mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients completed the study (263 females).
“The most prevalent general symptoms consisted of cough, myalgia, and loss of appetite.
“Face pain and nasal obstruction were the most disease-related otolaryngological symptoms.”
The study found a total of 85.6 percent and 88.0 percent of patients reported olfactory and gustatory dysfunctions, respectively.”
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Gustatory dysfunction relates to the loss of taste and smell.
When a person has the flu or a common cold this can often also lead to a temporary loss of smell.
However, COVID-19 might lead to a more sudden and profound smell loss experience that affects even the ability to distinguish between sweet and bitter.
Also, it can happen in COVID-19 without experiencing a stuffy nose.
In another study conducted by University of East Anglia ENT expert, Carl Philpott, the symptom of a loss of smell compared with those suffering with a cold or flu compared to those with COVID-19 was analysed.
“In this study, we aimed to objectively assess and compare olfactory and gustatory functions in 10 COVID-19 patients, 10 acute cold patients and 10 healthy controls, matched for age and sex, said the study.
It continued: “Smell performance was assessed using the extended “Sniffin’ Sticks” test battery, while taste function was assessed using “taste strips”.
“Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves were built to probe olfactory and gustatory scores in terms of their discrimination between COVID-19 and AC patients.”
The study concluded that results suggest that mechanisms of COVID-19 related olfactory dysfunction are different from those seen in people with a cold.
Another COVID-19 symptom that might tell show a person it’s not the flu that’s giving them troubles — or not just the flu.
That is dyspnea, or difficulty breathing.
The loss of smell and dyspnea are currently the two symptoms not shared with the flu according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Half of the patients with severe cases of the illness might develop dyspnea about a week after the onset of symptoms.
The symptom indicates a severe respiratory issue that might need supplemental oxygen therapy and even a ventilator.
It’s not enough that the world will have to face two distinct viruses in the coming months.
But both the coronavirus and flu share many similar symptoms, making it nearly impossible for health professionals and patients to tell what the underlying problem is without testing.
“We’re going to be totally confused,” University of Michigan School of Public Health epidemiologist Arnold Monto told the Washington Post about the upcoming ‘twindemic’.
If you are experiencing either an acute loss of taste or smell and difficulty breathing it is imperative to carefully monitor your symptoms and take the necessary precautions of self-isolation.