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Doctors Say Loss Of Smell Or Taste May Be Early Signs Of COVID-19

Doctors around the world report up to 70% of COVID-19 patients experience a loss of smell or taste.

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Doctors Say Loss Of Smell Or Taste May Be Early Signs Of COVID-19
Photo Credit: Truth Theory

(CONVERSATION) — Doctors from around the world are reporting cases of COVID-19 patients who have lost their sense of smell, known as anosmia, or taste, known as ageusia.

The director of the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste and the co-director of the UF Health Smell Disorders Program answer questions about this emerging trend.

Is The Loss Of Smell An Early Sign Of COVID-19?

Loss of smell occurs with the common cold and other viral infections of the nose and throat. Anecdotal reports suggest the loss of smell may be one of the first symptoms of COVID-19. Doctors around the world are reporting that up to 70% of patients who test positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19 – even those without fever, cough or other typical symptoms of the disease – are experiencing anosmia, a loss of smell, or ageusia, a loss of taste.

new study just published found that 20 of 59 patients (ages 50-74) interviewed in Italy reported a smell or taste loss. More research is needed to understand this link, but it may provide a low-cost, practical indicator of which people should self-isolate or get further testing, depending on the symptom severity and testing availability.

What Are Anosmia And Ageusia?

The body’s chemical senses include smell, used to detect volatile odours, and taste, which recognizes food compounds like sugars, salts and acids. A number of chemosensory disorders result in the diminishment, distortion or complete loss of smell or taste functions. For example, anosmia is the complete loss or absence of smell, while hyposmia is a reduced ability to smell. Similarly, ageusia is an absence of taste.

Approximately 13% of people over 40 years old have a significant impairment of their sense of smell. These numbers are lower for younger people, but significantly higher for the elderly. By contrast, taste loss is much less prevalent, and often results from physical damage to the taste nerves. Even so, both smell and taste disorders are quite common and can have major negative impacts on the health and quality of life of the millions affected.

According to news reports, many of the COVID-19 patients reporting a chemosensory loss describe a loss of taste. However, it is more likely that smell loss accounts for this symptom. When we eat or drink, the brain combines our perceptions of taste from the mouth with what is known as retronasal olfaction – that is, the perception of smell that comes from odours leaving the mouth and entering the nose through the connecting passage in the throat – into what is specifically called flavour.

Patients who have experienced anosmia or severe hyposmia may describe a loss of taste but are still able to detect sugar, salt or acid on the tongue. What they have lost is the contribution of smell to their perception of flavour. We would predict that in most cases, the taste loss reported by COVID-19 patients is likely due to a reduced or absent ability to smell.

Why Could The Coronavirus Cause Anosmia?

Loss of smell can result from many diverse causes such as head trauma, nasal polyps, chronic allergies, toxin exposure and neurodegenerative disease.

One of the most common causes of anosmia and hyposmia are viruses that produce upper respiratory infections, often referred to as the “common cold.”

Viruses could impact smell function in any of several ways. They could attack various cells in the nasal tissue, inducing local inflammation and disrupting odour detection. The virus could directly disable or damage the sensory cells in the nose that detect odours. Another possibility is that viruses could follow the olfactory nerve’s pathway through the skull and into the brain, where they could do additional damage. Whether this coronavirus wreaks havoc on our sense of smell by killing olfactory sensory neurons, by disrupting their function or by otherwise impacting nasal olfactory tissues remains unknown, but will certainly be an important area of investigation.

Could Anosmia Serve As An Early Indicator For COVID-19 Disease?

The doctor and patient anecdotes reported recently describe a high incidence of anosmia in COVID-19 patients, including many without other symptoms. Thus, smell testing could be a useful tool to identify people who may be infected with COVID-19.

Indeed, some otolaryngologists, doctors who treat diseases of the ear, nose and throat, in the United Kingdom and United States have recommended that individuals who experience a sudden loss of smell or taste should self-isolate for 14 days, and that smell testing should be integrated into COVID-19 screening protocols.

But do the facts bear this out? For example, one small study of 59 people found that 60% of patients with upper respiratory infections not related to COVID-19 had a significant reduction in their ability to smell. This might suggest that the prevalence of smell loss associated with COVID-19 is no higher than that typically experienced with the common cold.

Unfortunately, smell testing is rarely done as part of a normal doctor’s visit, so the data to resolve this is lacking. Furthermore, self-reporting of smell function can be inaccurate. It is thus critical to conduct controlled scientific studies to assess whether smell disorders such as anosmia are an indicator of a COVID-19 infection.

It will take time to conduct those studies. In the meantime, what should you do if you experience sudden smell loss?

The advice from ENT UK, a professional group which represents ear, nose and throat surgeons, and the British Rhinological Society seems prudent. Self-isolate, and contact your physician for recommendations of next steps.

Smell testing as part of a typical COVID-19 screen, as recommended by the American Academy of Otolaryngologists, also makes sense, even if the test is not diagnostic for COVID-19 in and of itself.

Simple scratch-and-sniff smell tests could be sent to patients to take in their home and report via secure communications, minimizing coronavirus exposure of overburdened health care providers.

Along with body temperature readings and a patient history, smell testing could allow physicians to make better choices about who to prioritize for self-isolation or more specific COVID-19 testing.

The Conversation / Creative Commons

The views in this article may not reflect editorial policy of Collective Spark.

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Massive Fire At Amazon Distribution Center Completely Destroys Entire Warehouse

An Amazon distribution center in Redlands, California that is run by a third-party company called Kuehne+Nage, burned to the ground in a three-alarm fire on Friday.

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Massive Fire At Amazon Distribution Center Completely Destroys Entire Warehouse
Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) – An Amazon distribution center in Redlands, California that is run by a third-party company called Kuehne+Nage, burned to the ground in a three-alarm fire on Friday.

According to officials with San Bernardino County, the fire started around 5:30 am on Friday, but the source of the fire is unclear. Firefighters struggled to weaken the fire throughout the day, but were unable to prevent the blaze from destroying the building.

At the time of publishing this article, the 600,000 square-foot building had collapsed in on itself and its ruins were still in flames.

Luckily, it appears that no one was hurt. According to CNN, about 100 employees were in the building at the time, but they were able to get to safety without any injuries.

Redlands Fire Chief Jim Topoleski said that the city will launch an investigation into the cause of the fire. Topoleski also noted that the building had all of the latest fire protections.

Redlands Fire is on scene of a large structure fire at a distribution center on W Lugonia Ave. Westbound I-10 is closed. Please stay out of the area.

Redlands Fire Department paylaştı: 5 Haziran 2020 Cuma

In a statement, Amazon thanked the local firefighters and rescue teams for their efforts and said that they don’t expect customers to experience any problems as a result of the fire, because other distribution centres are still in operation.

“We are glad everyone is safe, and thankful for the efforts of the local firefighters and first responders. This site was operated by a third party and we will support them throughout this process,” the statement read.

Considering the large protests that have developed in the United States and the high level of hostility directed at Amazon as the world’s largest and richest corporation, many have speculated that arson could be involved.

However, Redlands City Manager Charles M. Duggan Jr. dismissed these rumours in an interview with FOX11, where he said that “It’s definitely not protest-related, something happened on the inside of the building that ignited the fire.”

There were no protests taking place near the facility, however, there is no doubt that Amazon will be a target as the social unrest in the United States continues, and this could include incidents of sabotage that occur outside of protests.

Duggan described the fire as a “major structure fire,” and said that the smoke has been covering the entire town all day.

In a warning to the nearby community, the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District said, “A large continuous cloud of black smoke is moving up and over the San Bernardino mountains from Redlands and air quality sensor data shows impacts to ambient (breathable) air quality in Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Lucerne Valley, Phelan and Victorville and immediate surrounding communities.”

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A Rare ‘Strawberry Full Moon Eclipse’ Is Happening On Friday: What You Need To Know

We are in for a major spectacle this Friday as we’ll be treated to June’s full “Strawberry Moon” in all of its glory.

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Photo Credit: The Mind Unleashed

(TMU) – North America and most of the Western Hemisphere is in store for a major spectacle this Friday as we’ll be treated to June’s full “Strawberry Moon” in all of its glory.

And for much of the world, the June Full Moon will also coincide with a dazzling kick-off of the second eclipse season of year, with a penumbral lunar eclipse lasting over 3 hours.

NASA reports that the full moon will become visible on June 5 at 3:12 p.m. EDT, or 8:12 p.m. for people in the U.K.

“The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from early Thursday morning into early Sunday morning,” the space agency’s website explains.

The strawberry moon’s name isn’t derived from any expected color of the moon, but instead comes from Indigenous northeastern North Americans’ name for the relatively short strawberry growing season. The name is recognized by most Algonquin tribes and was passed along to colonial settlers.

Other names for the full moon include the rose moon, flower moon, planting moon, hot moon, honey moon, and mead moon.

“Mead is a drink created by fermenting honey mixed with water, sometimes with fruits, spices, grains, or hops,” NASA continued. The agency explained:

“The tradition of calling the first month of marriage the ‘honeymoon’ dates back to at least the 1500’s and may be tied to this full Moon, either because of the custom of marrying in June or because the ‘Honey Moon’ is the ‘sweetest’ Moon of the year.

“Some writings suggest that the time around the Summer solstice at the end of June was when honey was ripe and ready to be harvested from hives or from the wild, which made this the ‘sweetest’ Moon.”

The June full moon also has a long and celebrated significance for Hindus and Buddhists.

“June was traditionally the month of marriages, and is even named after the Roman goddess of marriage, Juno. Following marriage comes the ‘honeymoon,’ which may be tied to this full Moon’s name!,” the Old Farmer’s Almanac explained:

However, while the moon will be shining brilliantly in North America, people in other parts of the world will be treated to an entirely different lunar display – a penumbral lunar eclipse that will render the moon “dark and silvery,” reports LiveScience.

The penumbral lunar eclipse is different than a partial or total lunar eclipse. In this case, the Earth will be placed between the Sun and the moon, forming a line that is not entirely straight. As a result, the Earth will be blocking sunlight from reaching the moon’s surface and will form a somewhat pale shadow called the penumbra.

According to Universe Todaymost of Europe, Brazil, and western Africa and will see the eclipse underway when the moon rises Friday night, while the remainder of Africa and most of Asia will see the entirety of the eclipse. Northeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia will witness the eclipse toward dawn when the moon is setting. Sadly, North America and South America will miss out on this eclipse.

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

The eclipse will last three hours, 18 minutes and 13 seconds. In total, however, it will take 19 hours for it to complete its cycle.

Astrophysicist Dr. David Gozzard of the University of Western Australia International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research told the Daily Mail that Aussies will be able to see the eclipsed full moon without any need for binoculars or a telescope, explaining:

“Because it’s going to last about three hours that means it’s going to be peaking around twilight, so around dawn, when the sun is getting up.

“The full moon is going to be quite high in the sky so it’ll be reasonably obvious. Anywhere you can get out and see the sky and see the moon will be a good place to see it from, as long as you can get a reasonably unobstructed view to the west.”

Other lunar eclipses due to occur this year will happen in July and November, both of which will also be penumbral ones.

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An Asteroid The Size Of A Football Stadium Is Flying Toward The Earth This Week: NASA

NASA is keeping watch on a humongous asteroid that is quickly approaching Earth every day.

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Photo Credit: Times Now

(TMU) – NASA is keeping watch on a humongous asteroid that is quickly approaching Earth every day. The NASA website’s Asteroid Watch Widget shows the next five asteroids and comets that are expected to make relatively close approaches to earth in the next few days.

Among these is a large comet that is expected to be 1,100 feet wide (335 meters), approximately the size of a football stadium or the Wilshire Grand Center skyscraper in Los Angeles and larger than New York’s Empire State Building.

The asteroid, which is named 2002 NN4, is expected to come closest to our planet on Saturday, June 6th, according to NASA. The space rock is categorized as an Aten-class Asteroid, but is also classified by the space agency as a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) and Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), reports Tech Times.

Scientists are making it clear that any possibility of a collision here on Earth is EXTREMELY remote – in fact, its closest approach will be a distant 3,160,000 miles (over 5 million km.) away from home base.

While the asteroid is considered somewhat small in relation to the much larger rocks shooting across our galaxy, the 2002 NN4 is also 90% larger than the four others listed. These include three others about the size of a plane and another size of a house that are approaching the Earth. The closest one is expected to come within 1,830,000 miles of Earth today.

Researchers say that the asteroid completes its orbit around the sun every 0.82 years, or 300 days.

Scientists predict numerous “close approaches” of the asteroid to the Earth in the future. While only 30 close approaches are forecast at the moment, 2002 NN4 will return to our neighbourhood in nine years, on June 29 – so if you want to wave at this distant traveller, Saturday will be your only chance for some time.

Space.com has also reported that small asteroids pass by our planet on a monthly basis. One such small asteroid, 2020 HS7, safely passes near Earth several times each month, NASA Planetary Defence Officer Lindley Johnson said in an April 28 statement.

“It poses no threat to our planet, and even if it were on a collision path with Earth it is small enough that it would be disintegrated by our Earth’s atmosphere,” the planetary defence official added.

Yet 2020 HS7 was still came startlingly close to the planet, coming a mere 26,550 miles (42,735 km) within the Earth’s center and only 750 miles (1,200 km) from the closest satellite in geostationary orbit, which is one of the more distant satellite rings surrounding Earth. The space rock passed well below the satellite, however, leaving it unscathed.

The flybys are a good display of our planetary defence apparatus in action. Space authorities like NASA and the European Space Agency identify the asteroids in our galactic “neighbourhood” beginning with the largest, while tracking their orbital trajectory. As scientists compile more and more data on these space rocks, they are able to plot their orbits more accurately and calculate the probability – or lack thereof – of any impact with our planet.

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Swarm Of Earthquakes In Yellowstone Renews Fears Of Supervolcano Eruption

A swarm of earthquakes has caused renewed concern over the area’s underground supervolcano.

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Swarm Of Earthquakes In Yellowstone Renews Fears Of Supervolcano Eruption
Photo Credit: The Mind Unleashed

(TMU) – The US Geological Survey says it is monitoring the area near Yellowstone National Park where a swarm of earthquakes has caused renewed concern over the area’s underground supervolcano. Although statistically unlikely, a supervolcano eruption would release the equivalent of 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs and wreak unprecedented destruction.

The area, West Yellowstone in Montana, reported around eleven earthquakes on Friday and a total of 34 in the last month. Though considered low-magnitude quakes, the tremors extended three miles underground.

According to Yellowstone National Park’s website:

“Yellowstone is one of the most seismically active areas in the United States….Approximately 700 to 3,000 earthquakes occur each year in the Yellowstone area; most are not felt. They result from the extensive network of faults associated with the volcano and surrounding tectonic features.”

Situated in northwest Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park brings in millions of annual tourists, who marvel at the geysers, steam vents, and bubbling eddies of exothermally heated water.

Park officials say that earthquakes there are caused by volcanic fluids entering shallow rock fractures.

Yellowstone sits atop one of only two supervolcanos in the US. Contained within three overlapping calderas that represent past eruptions from hundreds of thousands and even millions of years ago, scientists say the Yellowstone volcano is roughly 34 by 45 miles wide and only three miles below the surface. Its last eruption was 640,000 years ago when it is estimated to have dumped over 2,000 times the amount of ash as the Mount St. Helens eruption.

Swarms of earthquakes are not unusual in the area. In 2018, the park recorded a swarm of 153 quakes. The US Geological Survey says the odds are only one in 730,000 that the Yellowstone supervolcano will erupt this year.

However, the supervolcano eruption threat has become a predictable meme in recent years, usually resurfacing during earthquakes swarms. The reason is that if the supervolcano did go off, it would definitely be a game-changer. A BBC feature on supervolcanos described the aftermath: “The sky will darken, black rain will fall, and the Earth will be plunged into the equivalent of a nuclear winter.

Volcanists insist there is no imminent threat of a supervolcano eruption at the moment but larger earthquakes and hydrothermal blasts could present a real danger to tourists. Over the years, over 300 people have died at Yellowstone, in accidents ranging from driving off of 800-foot cliffs to unknowingly diving into 200-degree boiling water and succumbing to the fumes emitted by hydrothermal vents.

In 2016, a 23-year-old man fell off a boardwalk overlooking the Norris Geyser Basin and was incinerated in the high-temperature, acidic geyser below.

So while this summer’s tourists probably don’t have to worry about the earthquakes representing the eruption of the supervolcano, Yellowstone National Park visitors should bring a healthy respect for the powers of nature.

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