BRG uses taste test to help determine severity of COVID-19 symptoms in patients

Doctors with Baton Rouge General using taste tests to help determine severity of COVID-19 in patients

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Doctors at Baton Rouge General are using a simple taste test to determine how severe a patient’s symptoms may be if they contract COVID-19.

The loss of smell or taste anything, it could be the first hint of COVID-19, according to doctors. They also say it’s one of the most common symptoms of the coronavirus, which is why they’re now researching taste receptors.

“It does appear to predict the severity and duration of symptoms. So, in terms of people’s symptoms profile their groupings are actually it has been suggested that you can predict what their outcomes will be based on the phenotypic tests,” says Dr. Henry Barham who is a nasal and sinus specialist at Baton Rouge General Medical Center.

Dr. Barham uses strips to measure how strong a patient recognizes tastes that are sweet, salty, bitter, or nothing at all.

Patients rate the taste on a scale of 0 to 10 (10 being the highest). Dr. Barham separates his data into three groups. The first group, the supertasters, are the ones that detect small quantities of bitter flavors. This group would most likely be asymptomatic.

The second group, the tasters, are classified as likely to show mild or moderate symptoms. The second group will likely not be hospitalized if they contract the virus unless they have underlying conditions.

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The final group, the non-tasters, are who get no taste from the strips. Barham says this group indicates that their symptoms could be strong enough to require hospitalization.

Meghan Parrish is 41 years old and she did not taste anything on the strips. Barham says Parrish may have a harder time battling COVID-19.

“I mean it’s disappointing, I would much rather be in one of the groups that’s low risks, but I am glad to know because I can be more careful and take extra precautions,” Parrish says.

Barham hopes to get the final approval from local and national leaders to move forward with a larger study on the taste tests.

Taste receptor test kit can be found for purchase online, but Barham warns that you might not get the most accurate results without guidance from your doctor.

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