Long-lasting loss of smell, taste in 5% of COVID-19 cases: study
Published: Jul 28, 2022 09:21 PM
Around 5 percent of people who have had ­COVID-19 develop long-lasting problems with their sense of smell or taste, a large study said Thursday, potentially contributing to the burden of long COVID-19.

A lost sense of smell has been a hallmark of contracting coronavirus since the early days of the pandemic, but it has not been clear how often symptoms like this occur - or how long they can last.

Seeking to find out, researchers analyzed the findings of 18 previous studies involving 3,700 patients.

In a new study published in The BMJ magazine, they found that six months after contracting the ­virus, 4 percent of patients had not recovered their sense of smell, while 2 percent had not recovered their sense of taste.

It was unclear if this represented a full or partial recovery, however.

The researchers estimated that loss of smell may persist in 5.6 percent of patients, while 4.4 percent may not fully recover their sense of taste.

One woman told the researchers that she had not recovered her sense of smell more than two years after contracting COVID-19.

The researchers said that while most patients should recover their sense of smell and taste within the first three months of getting ­COVID-19, "a major group of patients might develop long-lasting dysfunction that requires timely identification, personalized treatment, and long-term follow-up."

Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London not involved in the research, said it was a "strong and important study."

"Studies such as this alert us to the hidden ­burden out there of people suffering with ­persistent symptoms, but perhaps not having thought it worth contacting the GP [general practitioner] on the assumption there wouldn't be much to be done," he said.