Blind Taste Testing: A Case Study of an Emergency Room RN with Covid-19 Anosmia & Hypogeusia (Loss of Taste & Smell)
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2021 prov rn ca; 2021 prov rn poster; california; tarzana; covid-19; 2019-nCoV
Emergency Medicine | Nursing
Background: Anosmia, or the loss of taste and smell, is an important symptom for nurses to screen for among patients, as this can result in a poor appetite which impairs healing. In the early stages of the COVID19 pandemic, anosmia was not a known symptom indicative of infection with the virus. Yet, one Registered Nurse who was working in an Emergency Room received a positive COVID test following a workplace exposure to the virus while wearing personal protective equipment, and began to complain of anosmia shortly thereafter. Because the anosmia persisted, his spouse conducted blind taste test on him in their home with various spices, flavors, and fruits. The nurse subsequently posted about the experience on social media.
Purpose: The purpose of this case study is to describe one healthcare provider's experience with anosmia associated with a confirmed positive Sars-Cov-2 diagnosis.
Methods: An individual case study was conducted on a Healthcare provider with a confirmed positive COVID diagnosis early in the year 2020 during the COVID pandemic. The individual was a male who was employed as an emergency room Registered Nurse. He was not on any medications or supplements, reported no past medical conditions, and received no treatment or hospitalization during the period of anosmia. The nurse’s spouse blindfolded him and administered an array of spices, flavored liquids, and fruits, asking him to distinguish what he was tasting and smelling. The spouse then recorded all responses and posted results to social media. The project lead of this case study reviewed the information on the social media post, contacted the couple, and received permission to more widely share the findings.
Results: Based on information posted on social media, the nurse was unable to distinguish various spices, or liquid flavorings. While the nurse was able to identify fruits based on texture, he could not detect any distinct flavors such as sweetness. The nurse reported, “I cannot smell a thing; everything tastes bland. Conclusion: Blinded taste-testing is a feasible and low-cost method for confirming the symptom of anosmia among those who may be infected with the COVID virus. Future work should focus on supporting affected individuals with anosmia to maintain healthy nutritional intake despite the absence of taste and smell while ill.
Implications for Practice: Taste and smell deficiencies may occur with SarsCov-2 infection. Nurses should be screen for this symptom among patients and recommend COVID-testing where appropriate to drive early intervention and treatment of the virus. Additionally, because taste and smell normally help drive appetite, nurses should assess for deficiencies in nutritional intake among individuals with anosmia to support a healthy diet for optimal healing.
Conference / Event Name
2021 Providence RN Conference
Sperry, Marietta and Kohlieber, Kimberly, "Blind Taste Testing: A Case Study of an Emergency Room RN with Covid-19 Anosmia & Hypogeusia (Loss of Taste & Smell)" (2021). 2021 Providence Nurse Research Conference. 39.