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article imageHow long can loss of sense of taste and smell last with COVID?

By Karen Graham     Feb 23, 2021 in Health
Toronto - A preliminary study involving 813 Quebec health-care workers who tested positive for COVID-19 has shown that people with the coronavirus could lose their sense of smell and taste for up to five months.
The study was released on February 22, 2021, and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 73rd Annual Meeting being held virtually April 17 to 22, 2021, according to EurekAlert.
Each of the 813 healthcare workers completed an online questionnaire and home test to evaluate their sense of taste and smell on average five months after diagnosis. Of this group, 580 respondents said they had a "compromised sense of smell” during the initial stages of the disease, reports CTV News Canada.
Of the group of 580 people, 297 participants, or 51 percent, said they still had not regained their sense of smell five months later, while 134 participants, or 17 percent, had a persistent loss of smell when evaluated with the home test.
Additionally, 527 participants lost their sense of taste during the initial illness. Of this group, 200 people, or 38 percent, said they still had not regained their sense of taste five months later, while 73 people, or 9 percent, had a persistent loss of taste when evaluated with the home test.
"Our results show that an impaired sense of smell and taste may persist in a number of people with COVID-19," said study author Johannes Frasnelli, M.D., of the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres in Canada. "This emphasizes the importance of following up with people who have been infected, and the need for further research to discover the extent of neurological problems associated with COVID-19."
A medical worker takes a nasal swab sample from a student to test for COVID-19 in New York City.
A medical worker takes a nasal swab sample from a student to test for COVID-19 in New York City.
Angela Weiss, AFP
The importance of the sense of taste and smell
"It was apparent from the beginning of the pandemic that a significant percentage of people lost their capacity to smell," said researcher Dr. Nicolas Dupre, director of neuromuscular and neurogenetic disease clinic at Laval University in Quebec, reports USNews. "This is quite common in many infectious diseases, but in COVID, the effect was much more important."
Dr. Duore explained that in other viruses, the sense of smell usually returns after the sinus tract is clear. But the coronavirus might penetrate the small area of the brain called the olfactory bulb, which is important for the recognition of smell. "The virus probably kills some of the cells in the olfactory bulb, and that's why you have a long-lasting effect," he said.
"We still think that in 80 percent of the people there's not as a significant impact on their smell. So, most people will recover, but in a small percentage, it may be permanent, so this could be part of the long-term disability that we see in COVID," Dupre said.
Loss of the sense of taste and smell "is part of what we call Long COVID," said Dr. Thomas Gut, director of the COVID recovery program at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. Long COVID is typically categorized by fatigue, brain fog or memory issues, and loss of smell said Gut, who wasn't involved with the study.
DR. Gut added that Long COVID affects daily living and there's little that can be done. "We have a lot of people who can't go back to work, can't go back to their level of exercise and functioning as they could before the virus. And we still don't have any clear answers as to how to treat these patients," he said.
This study was conducted by researchers at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres, University of Laval, and the province of Quebec’s institute of public health. The study was supported by the Foundation of the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres and the Province of Quebec.
More about Covid19, sense of smell and taste, olfactory bulb, neurological problems, longterm disability
 
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