The first empirical findings of sensory loss associated with COVID-19 were published April 12 in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology.
Researchers found that patients who have loss of taste and smell are 10 times more likely to have COVID-19 than other infections.
In the study, 1,480 patients with flu-like symptoms were tested for COVID-19 at UC San Diego Health from March 3 through March 29, 2020; 102 tested positive. Survey responses were received from 59 COVID-19-positive and 203 COVID-19-negative patients. Sixty-eight and 71 percent of positive patients reported loss of smell and taste, respectively, versus 16 and 17 percent of negative patients.
The good news? Taste and smell recovered quickly for most people. "Among the Covid-19 patients with smell loss, more than 70 percent had reported improvement of smell at the time of survey and of those who hadn't reported improvement, many had only been diagnosed recently," study author Carol Yan, M.D., of UC San Diego Health, said in a news release.