Laryngoscope. 2020 Aug 13. doi: 10.1002/lary.29056. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: This study investigated olfactory and gustatory dysfunction in COVID-19 patients, and their correlations with viral load evaluation.
METHODS: This was a prospective cross-sectional cohort study of 143 symptomatic patients being screened for SARS-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) invited to participate. The clinical data of 83 confirmed COVID-19 subjects were collected, with 60 patients who were symptomatic but negative for COVID-19 recruited as controls. The prevalence and severity of and recovery time for olfactory and gustatory dysfunction, and cycle threshold (Ct) values from a SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay of nasopharyngeal and deep throat swabs were collected. Their correlations with Ct values were reported.
RESULTS: Thirty-nine (47.0%) and thirty-six (43.4%) COVID-19 patients reported olfactory and gustatory dysfunction, respectively. The results of one-way ANOVA did not show statistically significant relationships between the Ct values and severity of olfactory and gustatory dysfunction (p = 0.780 and p = 0.121, respectively). Among the COVID-19 patients who reported smell and taste loss, 28/39 (71.8%) and 30/36 (83.3%) experienced complete recovery, respectively. The mean recovery time was 10.3 ± 8.1 days for olfactory dysfunction and 9.5 ± 6.8 days for gustatory dysfunction. The recovery time was not correlated with the Ct values (Pearson correlation coefficient: smell: -0.008, p = 0.968; taste: -0.015, p = 0.940).
CONCLUSION: There is a high prevalence of olfactory and gustatory dysfunction in COVID-19. However, the severity of and recovery from these symptoms have no correlations with the viral load of SARS-CoV-2. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.