Smell loss due to coronavirus could last forever: study

Mexico City /

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised an “increasing public health concern” about people losing their sense of smell and taste, according to new research published Thursday. The study suggests that some people will take months to recover it, but others may never do so.

In research published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, it is estimated that between 700,000 and 1.6 million people in the United States with COVID-19 have lost or changed their sense of smell for up to 6 months. According to the authors, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, this number is likely to be significantly underestimated.

The study indicates that most people regain their sense of smell over time, but some may never recover it. The authors consider this alarming because, prior to the epidemic, only 13.3 million adults age 40 and older had what scientists call olfactory dysfunction (OD) or chronic olfactory dysfunction (COD).

These data indicate the existence of public health concerns arising from OD and the urgent need for research focused on the treatment of COD caused by covid-19,” the study notes.

A previous study found that 72% of people who contracted COVID-19 regained their sense of smell after a month, but for some the process is slower. According to John Hayes, director of the Center for Sensory Evaluation at the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Agricultural Sciences, “Long-term disease problems will persist for decades.” It is important to clarify that Hayes did not work on this study, but did do research in this area.

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The director believes that the estimated number of people with this problem in the study is conservative and that the problem may affect millions more. He said that although the long-term loss of sense of smell may seem trivial compared to other symptoms of Covid-19, such as chronic fatigue or heart problems, the inability to smell can also be very serious.

A 2014 study found that people who lost their sense of smell were more than twice as likely to be at risk than those who lost their sense of smell. Such as eating spoiled food or not timely detection of gas leakage, and even psychological symptoms, toLoss of smell has also been linked to depression in previous studies.

“It’s really essential when it comes to appetite and socialization, as people who have lost their sense of smell may not be able to detect if they have body odor, and it can affect their diet as well,” Hayes said. “Some might say they’d rather lose their sense of smell than go blind or die, but there’s a real and fundamental problem here.”


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