Headache, loss of smell most common coronavirus symptoms in Europe
Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Headaches and loss of sense of smell are the most common symptoms of coronavirus among European patients with mild to moderate forms of the disease, a new study found.
Seven out of ten patients were affected by each of these two symptoms, according to the study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine and carried out on more than 1,400 patients infected with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) confirmed by a screening test.
The other most frequent symptoms were nasal obstruction (67.8%), a cough (63.2%) and fatigue (63.3%), followed by muscle pain (62.5%), a runny nose (60.1%) and loss of taste (54.2%). In contrast, fever was reported by less than half of the patients (45.4%).
The study is the first epidemiological survey of European patients with a non-severe form of coronavirus. It was initiated by the International Federation of ORL Societies (IFOS) to assess the frequency of loss of smell and taste reported by some patients since the virus arrived in Europe.
Their preliminary results, published in early April, showed the frequency of these symptoms, which until then had been rarely described by studies conducted in Asia.
The study, carried out in five European countries (France, Belgium Italy, Spain and Switzerland), confirms that loss of sense of smell is “a specific symptom” of coronavirus and not only the consequence of nasal obstruction.
“The prevalence of symptoms significantly varied according to age and sex,” the study also pointed out.
For example, young patients are more likely to have ear, nose and throat (ENT) problems, while older patients often experience fever, fatigue and loss of appetite.
Coughing and fever are more common in men, while women are more affected by loss of sense of smell, headaches and a stuffy nose.