Coronavirus symptoms update: Mouth symptoms include loss of taste, dry mouth and blisters

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After more than a year into the pandemic, it’s almost common knowledge how exactly the virus infects our cells. Much has been reported on how the virus attacks the respiratory system but in a latest study, scientists discover how the virus attacks the mouth in particular the salivary gland tissues.

In a latest study, COVID-19 infecting cells in the mouth which in turn affects saliva and cells in the mouth was investigated.

US researchers found evidence that salivary glands are one area in the mouth where the novel coronavirus infects the cells.

It was noted the infection in the mouth accounts for the oral symptoms experienced in patients including a loss of taste, dry mouth and blisters.

Experts hypothesised the mouth may also play a role in transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to the lungs or digestive system via saliva laden with virus from infected oral cells.

Prior evidence has already suggested Covid-19 spreads via mouth and nose secretions, including saliva, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

Compared with other oral tissues, cells of the salivary glands, tongue, and tonsils carry the most RNA linked to proteins that the SARS-CoV-2 virus needs to infect cells.

Namely, these include the ACE2 receptor, and an enzyme called TMPRSS (transmembrane protease, serine 2), which allows the virus to fuse its membrane with that of the host cell and slip inside.

The potential of the virus to infect multiple areas of the body might help explain the wide-ranging symptoms experienced by Covid-19 patients.

Researchers already know that the saliva of people with COVID-19 can contain high levels of SARS-CoV-2. 

Studies also suggest that saliva testing is nearly as reliable as deep nasal swabbing for diagnosing the disease. 

Scientists looked into the salivary glands from a patient who had passed away from COVID-19 and another patient who suffered with acute Covid.

It was found that specific sequences of viral RNA were found which indicated cells were actively making new copies of the virus providing further evidence for infections in the mouth.

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Loss of taste

A sudden onset in loss of taste (ageusia) and smell (anosmia) are two symptoms that can be the earliest signs of a Covid infection.  

An average of 47 percent (up to 80 percent) of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 can have subjective complaints of taste and smell loss, particularly in cases of asymptomatic or mild disease.

Due to the tongue having an abundance of ACE2 receptors, direct viral entry into tongue cells is possible.


Health experts have suggested a link between COVID-19 and oral ulceration and blistering.

Several recent studies have looked at the presence of oral lesions in individuals with COVID-19.

Much of the research remains unclear regarding whether or not the oral symptoms were a result of the coronavirus infection or due to the individual’s other current systemic medical conditions, or because of adverse medication reactions.

Dry mouth

COVID-19 has been suggested to cause dry mouth for a variety of reasons.

The most common is mouth breathing by an individual due to mask use.

Mouth breathing can desiccate oral tissue especially without frequent hydration. Studies suggest that another biologic mechanism involves viral entry into the salivary glands, which are known to be abundant in the ACE2 receptor.

Kevin Byrd, DDS, PhD, manager of oral and craniofacial research at the American Dental Association Science and Research Institute, states that novel coronavirus infection of the salivary glands can influence both the quantity and quality of saliva being produced.

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