BR doctor says taste test could predict severity of coronavirus symptoms
BATON ROUGE - Researchers at Baton Rouge General say strips of paper can predict how bad your coronavirus symptoms will be, and it all has to do with what they taste like.
The test, which you may recall doing in biology class, only tastes bitter to people who have certain taste receptors. Dr. Henry Barham says it determines who has strong immune systems.
“So you have bitter taste receptors on your tongue and they do certainly influence taste, but you also have them extra-orally. So you have them throughout your entire respiratory tract, and they’re actually part of your innate immunity. And they help you to fight bacteria, viruses, other pathogens in the upper airway,” Barham said.
It effectively means, if you taste bitter, you are less likely to have strong symptoms and possibly, in some cases, be entirely asymptomatic.
In an initial test of 100 coronavirus patients, 21 who ended up in the hospital did not taste bitter in the test. The 79 that did had mild symptoms. Though the test has only been done on a small scale so far, Barham says the results could have huge implications.
“The goals are that we’re able to predict who can return to society safely and who needs to continue to protect themselves. If this allows us to assimilate back into society and work and family and friends, normal life as we head in to the fall... That would obviously be the goal of all this.”
Dr. Barham and his team are currently conducting a larger study at Sinus and Nasal Specialists of Louisiana. They are not currently accepting new participants.
You can view Barham's initial study here.