Some COVID-19 Patients Have Persistent Smell, Taste Dysfunction

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A proportion of patients with COVID-19 have persistent self-reported smell and taste dysfunction.

HealthDay News A proportion of patients with COVID-19 have persistent self-reported smell and taste dysfunction, according to a study published online July 26 in The BMJ.

Benjamin Kye Jyn Tan, M.B.B.S., from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the proportion of patients with COVID-19 with persistent dysfunction of smell and taste using data from 18 studies with 3,699 patients.

The researchers found that based on parametric cure modelling, persistent self-reported smell and taste dysfunction could develop in an estimated 5.6 and 4.4 percent of patients, respectively. These could be underestimates based on sensitivity analyses. Overall, 74.1, 85.8, 90.0, and 95.7 percent of patients recovered their sense of smell at 30, 60, 90, and 120 days, respectively, while 78.8, 87.7, 90.3, and 98.0 percent, respectively, recovered their sense of taste. Compared with men, women were less likely to recover their sense of smell (odds ratio, 0.52), as were patients with greater initial severity of dysfunction or nasal congestion (odds ratios, 0.48 and 0.42, respectively).

“While most patients are expected to recover their sense of smell or taste within the first three months, a major subpopulation of patients might develop long lasting dysfunction,” the authors write. “These patients require timely identification, personalized treatment, and long-term follow-up for associated sequela.”

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