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Chemosensory Recovery Impacted by Age and Degree of Loss in COVID-19 Patients

A recent study has revealed that chemosensory loss due to the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 appears to recover partially or substantially with time. Recovery process is impacted by age and the degree of chemosensory loss.

Chemosensory Recovery Impacted by Age and Degree of Loss in COVID-19 Patients
Photo: Chemosensory Loss | InStyleHealth

What Is Chemosensory Loss?

Chemosensory loss is defined as the loss or distortion of the sense of smell and/or taste. The ability to smell and taste start when molecules of substances stimulate sensory cells high inside the nose called the olfactory nerve cells or food and beverage stimulate the taste buds of the mouth or throat called the gustatory nerve cells. Stimulated sensory cells send out messages to the brain to identify as a particular taste or smell.

Current clinical study has concluded that the onset of symptoms of loss of smell and taste, that is correlated with COVID-19, takes place 4 to 5 days after other symptoms, and that these symptoms would last from 7 to 14 days. Outcomes, however, differed and there is a need for further studies to clarify the existence of these symptoms.

Experts extracted their data from the Global Consortium of Chemosensory Research or GCCR, which is a crowdsourced online study that looks at self-reported smell, taste, and nasal blockage, among other factors, in participants with respiratory diseases. The survey responses from 974 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 were covered and evaluated for chemosensory loss and recovery.

A rating scale of 0-100 was utilized to quantify smell, taste, and chemesthesis, and were compared between pre- and post- disease states. The respective average ratings while sick with COVID-19 were 11.90, 20.39, and 40.81. Following the resolution of symptoms, scores improved to 53.05, 60.75, and 69.52, correspondingly.

But, such improvement observed was not homogenous, with the two main recovery profiles emerging: partial (48.6%) and substantial (51.64%). The participants with partial recovery of chemosensation inclined to be older and had been infected earlier than counterparts who attained a substantial recovery.

A clustering analysis further unveiled that the degree of chemosensory loss impacted the path to recovery. For example, most patients with moderate smell/taste of loss yet preserved chemesthesis experienced a partial recovery. However, those who had substantial loss of all 3 chemosensations revealed the highest rate of recovery.

Researchers said that, “Our work provides indications on the recovery process on which we shaped a scientific-based approach for the healthcare professionals to characterize the clinical picture of patients reporting chemosensory loss due to COVID-19 infection.”


Source: Sci Rep 2021;11:17504

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