Although fever, respiratory symptoms, cough, and fatigue were initially considered as the leading symptoms of COVID-19 infection, it has now become evident that patients often report ear, nose, and throat (ENT) symptoms. Notably, we are currently facing an outbreak of olfactory dysfunction along with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the World Health Organization states that this symptom is less common, several studies have demonstrated that this symptom is often observed, and that anosmia may even constitute the only complaint of SARS-CoV-2 carriers in some cases. Consequently, it is now admitted that patients with isolated sudden anosmia and no nasal obstruction should be considered as potential COVID-19 patients. Hence, this symptom should motivate the initiation of quarantine and use of appropriate personal protective equipment for attending medical teams.
As SARS-CoV-2 has a tropism for ENT mucosa and given that ENT procedures may generate aerosolization, ENT examination is a procedure with a particularly high risk of transmission for medical doctors. Therefore, adequate personal protective equipment should be employed when performing ENT examination. Moreover, it is advised to limit procedures leading to aerosolization as much as possible, as well as to adapt ENT surgical techniques during the pandemic.
This paper has reviewed the ENT symptoms possibly related to COVID-19 infection, with a particular focus on anosmia. We have also provided a reminder concerning good clinical practice recommendations in the ENT setting.