Olfactory and gustatory function impairment in COVID-19 patients: Italian objective multicenter-study

Luigi Angelo Vaira*, Claire Hopkins, Giovanni Salzano, Marzia Petrocelli, Andrea Melis, Marco Cucurullo, Mario Ferrari, Laura Gagliardini, Carlotta Pipolo, Giovanna Deiana, Vito Fiore, Andrea De Vito, Nicola Turra, Sara Canu, Angelantonio Maglio, Antonello Serra, Francesco Bussu, Giordano Madeddu, Sergio Babudieri, Alessandro Giuseppe FoisPietro Pirina, Francesco A. Salzano, Pierluigi De Riu, Federico Biglioli, Giacomo De Riu

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    206 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Objective data on chemosensitive disorders during COVID-19 are lacking in the Literature. Methods: Multicenter cohort study that involved four Italian hospitals. Three hundred and forty-five COVID-19 patients underwent objective chemosensitive evaluation. Results: Chemosensitive disorders self-reported by 256 patients (74.2%) but the 30.1% of the 89 patients who did not report dysfunctions proved objectively hyposmic. Twenty-five percentage of patients were seen serious long-lasting complaints. All asymptomatic patients had a slight lowering of the olfactory threshold. No significant correlations were found between the presence and severity of chemosensitive disorders and the severity of the clinical course. On the contrary, there is a significant correlation between the duration of the olfactory and gustatory symptoms and the development of severe COVID-19. Conclusions: Patients under-report the frequency of chemosensitive disorders. Contrary to recent reports, such objective testing refutes the proposal that the presence of olfactory and gustatory dysfunction may predict a milder course, but instead suggests that those with more severe disease neglect such symptoms in the setting of severe respiratory disease.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1560-1569
    Number of pages10
    JournalHead and Neck
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


    • ageusia
    • anosmia
    • COVID-19
    • smell
    • taste


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