Olfactory Dysfunction (Sense of Smell) and COVID-19

Angie SzumlinskiStudies

As of November 11, 2020, there have been 50,810,753 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide, with 1,263,844 confirmed deaths. The clinical picture of the infection may vary regarding the disease severity and usually includes general, otolaryngological, and neurological symptoms. Olfactory dysfunction (OD, sense of smell) is one of the most prevalent symptoms. The prevalence of OD may vary regarding the clinical setting, with rates of total loss of smell as high as 70% in patients with mild COVID-19.

Loss of smell is a key symptom of the coronavirus disease 2019, which may be an isolated symptom or associated with other general and otolaryngological symptoms. In a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine both self-reported and objective ODs were more prevalent in mild patients compared with individuals presenting moderate-to-critical COVID-19. The main hypothesis underlying the higher prevalence of loss of smell in mild COVID-19 would consist of differences in the immune response to the infection in mild and moderate-to-critical patients.

OD is a prevalent disorder in COVID-19 patients with a higher prevalence in patients with mild forms of the disease. At the 2 month follow-up, 75% to 85% of patients recovered olfaction according to subjective and objective olfactory evaluations. If you lose your sense of smell or someone close to you comments that they are having difficulty with their sense of smell, seek medical attention as soon as possible. There is a chance that you could be infected with COVID-19 and the only symptom is the loss of smell!

Stay the course, stay well, mask up, and stay tuned!