Characteristics of COVID-19 smell and taste dysfunction in hospitalized patients

Link to article at PubMed

Am J Otolaryngol. 2021 Apr 19;42(6):103068. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2021.103068. Online ahead of print.


The effects of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) exist on a spectrum. Clinical symptoms of smell and taste dysfunction are prominent features of COVID-19. The objective of this study was to elucidate the factors associated with smell and taste dysfunction amongst hospitalized COVID-19 patients. A retrospective review of a multi-hospital health network's COVID-19 database between March and June 2020 was performed. Patients with self-reported smell or taste loss were included. Demographic information, patient comorbidities, and mortality data was obtained. There were 2892 patients included in this analysis and 117 reported smell or taste loss (4.0%, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.4%-4.8%). The proportion of females with smell or taste loss was significantly higher than males (6.3% vs. 2.5%, P < 0.001), whereas no differences existed between ethnicity or smoking status. When compared with age of 30-40 years, the age group of 10-20 years were most likely to present with smell or taste dysfunction (odds ratio [OR] 6.59, 95% CI 1.32-26.12; P = 0.01). The majority of specific comorbidities were not associated with increased incidence of smell or taste dysfunction. Outpatient healthcare workers were more likely to present with smell or taste loss (OR 3.2, CI 1.8-5.47; P < 0.001). The mortality rate among COVID-19 patients with smell or taste dysfunction was significantly lower than those without (0% vs. 20.3%; P < 0.001). Smell or taste loss is more prevalent in women, younger age groups, and healthier individuals. It may be associated with lower mortality and a milder disease trajectory compared to the overall cohort.

PMID:33940252 | DOI:10.1016/j.amjoto.2021.103068

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