May 30, 2024

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More than 20 million Americans struggle to restore sense of smell and taste after COVID-19 pandemic

More than 20 million Americans struggle to restore sense of smell and taste after COVID-19 pandemic



More than 20 million Americans struggle to restore sense of smell and taste after COVID-19 pandemic

A retrospective analysis of national data led by researchers at Mass Eye and Ear estimates that more than 20 million COVID patients will experience loss of smell or taste in 2021, with a significant proportion of those never fully regaining these senses.

 

More than 20 million Americans struggle to restore sense of smell and taste after COVID-19 pandemic

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients experienced loss of taste and smell during and after infection with SARS-CoV-2.

A retrospective study by researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, a member of the Mass General Brigham Health Care System, examined loss of smell and taste and estimated that about one in four Americans with COVID-19 reported only partial taste/smell Recovery or no recovery. The results are published in Laryngoscope.

 

“We wanted to quantify the national impact of anosmia caused by COVID-19,” said Neil Bhattacharyya, MD, professor of otolaryngology at Mass Eye and Ear. “Through these data, we can understand how many people have lost their sense of smell or taste due to COVID infection, and how many never fully regain these senses.”

 

The retrospective study used data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a division of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which included survey data from 29,696 adults. In the NHIS data, COVID patients were asked about the severity of their symptoms, any loss of taste or smell, and the return of those senses.

 

About 60 percent of surveyed participants who contracted COVID experienced loss of smell, and about 58 percent experienced loss of taste, the team reported. Also, not all patients fully regain feeling after recovering from an infection.

 

The study found that about 72 percent of patients had a complete recovery of smell, but 24 percent had only partial recovery, and more than 3 percent had no sense of smell at all.

Likewise, about 76% of people who lost their sense of taste due to COVID had full recovery, while 20% had only partial recovery, and more than 2% had no recovery at all.

That equates to nearly 28 million Americans who may experience a loss of smell after COVID infection.

 

One of the motivations for the study, Bhattacharyya said, was seeing a patient who lost 50 pounds due to COVID-related anosmia.

 

“Patients aren’t eating and are getting really sick and depressed because they’ve lost their sense of smell,” Bhattacharyya said. “When you hear about COVID-related loss of smell, you’d think that most people recover it and be fine. But there are quite a few.” who did not recover it.”

 

The study also found a correlation between COVID symptom severity and loss of smell or taste. As the severity of symptoms increases, so does the proportion of patients with loss of smell or taste. In addition, the likelihood of recovery of sense of smell and taste decreased with more severe COVID symptoms.

 

The authors note that because the senses of smell and taste often work synergistically, it may be difficult for patients to self-report which senses have or have not recovered. However, a significant number of patients still experience loss of smell and taste due to sequelae of COVID.

 

While the study is novel because of its national population sample, the dataset only focuses on patients treated in 2021. This means that patients around 2021 were not considered, and if a person regains their sense of smell or taste after 2021, it is not recorded in the data. In addition, the rates of loss of smell or taste due to infection with COVID variants emerging after 2021 may differ from the rates detected in this study.

 

Although there is currently no standard treatment for patients with smell and taste deficiencies, the researchers note that the findings could help providers counsel patients with loss of smell or taste due to COVID-19 and track recovery rates.

 

“The value of this study is that we’ve highlighted an overlooked group of people,” Bhattacharyya said. “Losing your sense of smell or taste isn’t as good as you think. It can lead to eating less for recreation, and in more extreme cases, it can lead to depression and weight loss.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than 20 million Americans struggle to restore sense of smell and taste after COVID-19 pandemic

(source:internet, reference only)


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