Newsroom / CNA
Four out of five patients who recover from Covid-19 (80%) regain their lost sense of smell and taste within six months. However, the remaining 20% continue to have lingering taste and smell issues, according to a new American scientific study.
The study also found that the senses of taste and smell in people up to the age of 40 are more likely to return to normal faster than older patients.
The new study found that patients who had shortness of breath when they became ill with Covid-19, as well as those with a previous head injury, had greater difficulty recovering their sense of smell
The researchers, led by Professor Ivan Reiter of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who published the study in the American Journal of Otolaryngology, analyzed data from 798 people over the age of 18 who were diagnosed with COVID and had reported olfactory and taste disturbances.
"We found a recovery rate of about 80% of the two senses over a period of six months or so. However, the remaining 20% is quite a big number considering how many millions have been infected with Covid-19," said Dr. Reiter. Given that the diagnosed cases of the pandemic are close to 237 million worldwide, more than 20 million people may not have fully regained their sense of smell and taste within six months, which reduces their quality of life, e.g. reducing the enjoyment of food and leading to loss of appetite.
Loss of taste and/or smell is considered a characteristic symptom of coronavirus infection. Patients who have such symptoms for a longer period of time may also be at an increased risk for severe Covid-19.
The new study found that patients who had shortness of breath when they became ill with Covid-19, as well as those with a previous head injury, had greater difficulty recovering their sense of smell. Also, none of the commonly used anti-Covid-19 drugs appeared to improve olfactory recovery.
On the other hand, those who often had a stuffy nose before becoming infected with the coronavirus tend to regain their - already moderate - sense of smell faster.