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Persistent Loss of Smell and Taste with COVID-19 by Dr. Hannum
Mackenzie E. Hannum

Over the past two years, millions of Americans woke up one morning with spontaneous loss of their smell and/or taste. Soon enough they discovered it was a symptom of COVID-19. As studies evolved, there was a wide range of reported smell loss prevalence, from 5% to 98%. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis (N = 34 articles)
to understand the true prevalence of COVID-19- related smell loss. When smell is measured directly using standardized testing methods, the prevalence of loss is greater in people currently ill with COVID-19. But what about taste loss? Less research is published as many chemosensory scientists have been skeptical that reports of COVID-19 taste loss
are genuine, in part because, before COVID-19, taste loss was rare and often confused with smell loss. Therefore, we conducted another comprehensive review and meta-analysis (N = 241 articles) and discovered taste loss is a bona fide symptom of COVID-19, experienced in 4 out of every 10 COVID-19 patients. And for many, while they have recovered from COVID-19, taste and smell loss persists (38.5% of patients still reporting symptoms at a 6 month follow-up), and even might become distorted (e.g., coffee now has an unpleasant scent). As bleak as these data are, this situation creates opportunities in the marketplace to develop not only better, cheaper, and more accessible chemosensory tests, but to capitalize on public interest in this topic with entertainment and food and fragrance products designed to appeal to this new market segment.

Jan 11, 2022 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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