Early recovery following new onset anosmia during the COVID-19 pandemic - An observational cohort study

Claire Hopkins*, Pavol Surda, Emily Whitehead, B. Nirmal Kumar

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    221 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background: A rapidly evolving evidence suggests that smell and taste disturbance are common symptoms in COVID-19 infection. As yet there are no reports on duration and recovery rates. We set out to characterise patients reporting new onset smell and taste disturbance during the COVID-19 pandemic and report on early recovery rates. Methods: Online Survey of patients reporting self-diagnosed new onset smell and taste disturbance during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 1 week follow-up. Results: Three hundred eighty-two patents completed bot an initial and follow-up survey. 86.4% reported complete anosmia and a further 11.5% a very severe loss of smell at the time of completing the first survey. At follow-up 1 week later, there is already significant improvement in self-rating of severity of olfactory loss. 80.1% report lower severity scores at follow-up, 17.6% are unchanged and 1.9% are worse. 11.5% already report compete resolution at follow up, while 17.3% report persistent complete loss of smell, with reported duration being 1 to over 4 weeks. This is reflected in the overall cumulative improvement rate of 79% patients overall in the interval between surveys. Conclusions: A review of the growing evidence base supports the likelihood that out cohort have suffered olfactory loss as part of COVID-19 infection. While early recovery rates are encouraging, long term rates will need to be further investigated and there may be an increase in patients with persistent post-viral loss as a result of the pandemic. We further call for loss of sense of smell to be formerly recognised as a marker of COVID-19 infection.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number26
    JournalJournal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
    Volume49
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2020

    Keywords

    • Anosmia
    • COVID-19
    • Epidemiology
    • Olfactory dysfunction

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