COVID-19: headache and loss of sense of smell, the most common symptoms in Europe

COVID-19: maux de tête et perte d’odorat, symptômes les plus fréquents en Europe

The headache and loss of sense of smell are the most common symptoms of the COVID-19 in the european patients with a mild to moderate form, according to a study, which indicated that the disease takes different forms according to age and sex.

Seven patients out of ten have been achieved by each of these two symptoms, concludes the study published in the Journal of Intern Medicine, and a survey of more than 1400 patients with an infection by the novel coronavirus confirmed by a screening test.

The other the most common symptoms were stuffy nose (67,8%), cough (63,2%), and fatigue (63.3 per cent), followed by muscle pain (62,5%), runny nose (60.1 per cent) and a loss of taste (54.2 per cent). On the other hand, the fever has not been reported by less than half of the patients (45.4 per cent).

This first epidemiological survey on european patients with non-severe COVID-19 had been launched by the international Federation of ORL (IFOS), to assess the frequency of symptoms of loss of smell (anosmia) and taste (ageusia), as reported by some patients since the arrival of the pandemic on the european continent.

Their preliminary results published at the beginning of April had shown that the frequency of these symptoms, few described so far by the studies carried out in Asia.

Their comprehensive study conducted in five european countries (France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Switzerland) confirmed that the loss of sense of smell is a “specific symptom” of the COVID-19, and not only the consequence of the nasal obstruction.

“The ability of the COVID-19 to invade the olfactory bulb and, therefore, the central nervous system, is probably a track” to explain the anosmia, pointing to the Foch hospital.

Anosmia and ageusia have been very poorly described in studies conducted on chinese patients, who were mainly concerned with the fever, cough and difficulty in breathing as symptoms of the COVID-19.

The study, conducted by the IFOS considers that this difference can be explained by the fact that the chinese studies were on hospitalized patients, with forms of infection may be more severe.

The authors also make the assumption that the genetic mutations that are successive in the coronavirus may be the cause of different symptoms, and that the european populations have a greater level of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE2, which acts as a receptor for the coronavirus.

They also stress that the frequency of symptoms varies according to age and sex.

Thus, young patients often have more of the disorders ENT (ear, nose, and throat), while older patients are often fever, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Cough and fever are more often found in men, women being more affected by the loss of sense of smell, headache and stuffy nose.

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