Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2021 Mar 28. doi: 10.1007/s00405-021-06764-y. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: The study aimed to determine the incidence and long-term evolution of COVID-related olfactory (OD) and gustatory (GD) dysfunction, the recovery timeline, and the association with other symptoms. The secondary objective was to identify the predictive clinical factors for the evolution of these symptoms.
METHODS: A prospective case-control study was conducted from March 15 to October 15, 2020, in health workers with COVID-19 related symptoms in a tertiary care hospital. 320 patients were included after 6 months of follow-up: 195 in the case group and 125 in the control group. Olfactory dysfunction (OD), dysosmia, and gustatory dysfunction (GD) onset and recovery rate after 6 months follow-up are analyzed in both groups.
RESULTS: There were 125 (64.1%) in case group patients with OD and 118 (60.5%) with GD. Total or partial recovery OD and GD was found in 89%, mainly in the first 2 months. In the control group, there were 14 (11.2%) patients with OD and 33 (26.4%) patients with GD, with 100% of total/partial recovery.
CONCLUSION: In both groups, OD and GD showed high-resolution rates during the first two months after the onset of symptoms. Nevertheless, 11% of the case group patients did not show any recovery, and the partial resolution was present in 30% of our patients, at the 6 months follow-up. We found a high correlation between OD and GD, both in the appearance of symptoms and in their recovery. Nasal obstruction and dyspnea have been identified as risk factors for the persistence of symptoms.