Loss of sense of smell and taste can last up to 5 months after COVID-19 infection

People with COVID-19 may lose their sense of smell and taste up to five months after infection, according to a preliminary study released today, February 22, 2021, presented at the 73rd annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology to be held virtually April 17-22. 2021

“While COVID-19 is a new disease, previous research shows that most people lose their sense of smell and taste in the early stages of the disease,” said author Johannes Frasnelli, MD, of the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivieres. Canada said. . “We wanted to go further to see how long the loss of smell and taste lasts, and how severe it is in people with COVID-19.”

The study involved 813 health workers who tested positive for COVID-19. Each person completed an online questionnaire and home test to evaluate their taste and smell on average five months after diagnosis. They rate their senses of taste and smell on a scale of 0 to 10. Zero does not mean sense at all, and 10 means a strong sense of taste or smell. Researchers found that the average person did not regain his sense of smell.

A total of 580 people lost their sense of smell during the initial illness. Of this group, 297 participants, or 51%, said they had not regained their sense of smell five months later, while 134 participants, or 17%, had persistent odor loss when evaluated with the home test. On average, people rank their sense of smell at a seven out of ten after illness, compared to a nine out of ten before they became ill.

A total of 527 participants lost their sense of taste during the initial illness. ¬ Of this group, 200 people, or 38%, said that five years later they still had not regained their sense of taste, while 73 people, or 9%, were persistent. loss of taste when evaluated with the home test. On average, people rank their taste buds at eight out of ten after the disease, compared to nine out of ten before they became ill.

“Our results show that a weakened sense of smell and taste may persist in a number of people with COVID-19,” Frasnelli said. “This emphasizes the importance of following up on infected people, and the need for further investigation to discover the extent of neurological problems associated with COVID-19.

Limitations of the study include the subjective nature of the odor and taste ratings and the single time at which data were collected.

The study was supported by the Foundation of the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivieres and the Province of Quebec.

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