COVID-19 and Loss of Smell

The COVID-19, or Corona Virus, Pandemic has had a devastating impact on the entire world population. This respiratory virus readily infects humans through droplets transmitted through the nose, mouth and conjunctiva of the eyes causing symptoms such as fever, headache, and cough and in some cases death due to severe lower respiratory compromise and multi-system failure.

Unfortunately, because this is a new strain of Coronavirus previously not seen in humans and there is not enough history with the illness at this time to chart out results further than 6 months, the full scope of symptoms and potential long-term effects to human health will continue to evolve.

Respiratory viruses in general have always been known to cause a loss in sense of smell and taste referred to as hyposmia/anosmia and hypogeusia in some patients. For most of these patients, their sense of smell and taste resume to their previous level with time but there are some whose senses never fully recover back to normal levels and fewer still who never restore their sense of taste or smell at all. Unfortunately, there is no known effective treatment for hyposmia/anosmia or hypogeusia.

Because Covid-19 is a respiratory virus, it’s not surprising that it has also caused a loss of smell and taste. However, it appears that with Covid, this often presents as an isolated symptom, separate from the more common symptom listed above. To date, the majority of patients with Covid-19 who presented with a loss of senses typically resolve their sensory symptoms within 10 days. However, there are some with persistent symptoms but again, due to the newness of this virus, data is limited to the short timespan in which it’s been active which is less than a year.

Interestingly, it appears that those with ansomia caused by Covid-19 have a less severe form of the disease. In fact, one study showed that those with anosmia, or loss of smell, have a 10 time less likelihood of ending up on a respiratory ventilator and/or dying from the disease.

Over time, the knowledge of Covid-19 will continue evolve as more studies are conducted and the illness is tracked over a longer period of time. It’s important to remain vigilant in practicing proper hygiene to protect yourself and others from further transmitting the disease. If you are experiencing any symptoms of respiratory illness or Covid-19, please contact a physician.

Topics: Allergy & Asthma, Blog, Ear, Nose & Throat