Coronavirus can cause impaired chemesthesis – a sign that shows up when eating spicy food
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Coronavirus daily cases and deaths declined yesterday by 854 and 23, respectively. While this trajectory is encouraging, it comes after the Government’s scientists said the UK’s reproduction number remained above 1. The R number is a key indicator used to determine how quickly COVID-19 is spreading, representing the average number of people each person with the virus goes on to infect.
The aim is to sufficiently suppress the viral transmission until the R rate falls below 1, which should cause it so peter out.
Until that goal has been achieved, it falls on everyone to abide by the social distancing rules and stay alert to the symptoms.
Thanks to ongoing research, we are now much more informed about the unusual ways COVID-19 – the disease caused by coronavirus – can impact the body.
A recent study drills further down into the details of the sensory problems associated with COVID-19.
Writing in the journal Chemical Senses, the researchers note that much of the focus has been on loss of smell.
“However, these reports have downplayed or failed to distinguish potential effects on taste, ignored chemesthesis, and generally lacked quantitative measurements,” said.
In light of this, the researchers sought to investigate the impact COVID-19 has on chemesthesis.
Chemesthesis is the chemically induced sensations that are activated via the touch system.
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In other words, the sensation of coolness from menthol or irritation, or tingling or burning from chillies.
To investigate the link, the researchers conducted a multilingual, international questionnaire to assess self-reported quantity and quality of perception in three distinct chemosensory modalities – smell, taste, and chemesthesis – before and during COVID-19.
In the first 11 days after questionnaire launch, 4039 participants (2913 women, 1118 men, and eight others, aged 19-79) reported a COVID-19 diagnosis either via laboratory tests or clinical assessment.
Importantly, smell, taste, and chemesthetic function were each significantly reduced compared to their status before the disease.
The findings of the study show that COVID-19-associated chemosensory impairment is not limited to smell but also affects taste and chemesthesis.
Other symptoms to watch out for
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), other symptoms include:
- Dry cough
- Aches and pains
- Sore throat
- A rash on the skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.
Serious symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest pain or pressure
- Loss of speech or movement.
If you are experiencing mild symptoms, you should get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible and self-isolate at home, UK health advice dictates.
You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.
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