Odor loss occurs in 86% of mild COVID-19 cases – CBS Sacramento


(CNN) – According to a new study of more than 2,500 patients from 18 European hospitals, 86% of people with mild cases of Covid-19 lose their smell and taste, but recover it within six months.

A case of Covid-19 was considered mild if there was no sign of viral pneumonia or loss of oxygen and the patient could recover at home.

The sense of smell reappeared after an average of 18 to 21 days, according to the study, but about 5% of people had not recovered olfactory function by six months.

Anosmia, which is a loss of smell and therefore taste, has been suggested as an early sign of Covid-19. It can happen without warning, not even a stuffy nose.

“Anosmia, in particular, has been observed in patients who eventually tested positive for the coronavirus without any other symptoms,” according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Moderate to severe Covid-19

In comparison, the study found that only 4% to 7% of people with moderate to severe symptoms of Covid-19 lost their ability to smell and taste.

People with moderate Covid-19 had “clinical signs of pneumonia,” according to the study, such as cough, fever and difficulty breathing. People with critical cases of the disease suffered from severe respiratory distress and were more likely to be older and to have “hypertension, diabetes, gastric disorders, kidney, respiratory, heart, liver and neurological disorders” .

The study, published Monday in the Journal of Internal Medicine, found a higher rate of olfactory dysfunction in younger patients than in older people, but this association requires further analysis, the researchers said.

How to test your sense of smell

Is there anything you can do at home to check if you are suffering from loss of smell? The answer is yes, using the “jellybean test”.

“You take a candy in one hand and with the other, you hold your nose tight so you don’t get any airflow,” Steven Munger, director of the Center for Smell and Taste at the University of Florida, told CNN. a preliminary interview.

“You put the candy in your mouth and you chew it. Let’s say it’s a fruit flavored jellybean: if you get the salty flavor and sweetness of the jelly, you’ll know you have a functional taste, ”Munger said.

“Then, while still chewing, suddenly release your nose. If you have a sense of smell you will suddenly have all the smells and you will be like “Oh! it’s a lemon candy ”or“ Oh! it’s cherry. It’s really a very dramatic, quick ‘Wow’ type response, ”he explained.

“So if you can go from sweet and sour to full flavor and figure out what the flavor is,” Munger said, “then your sense of smell is probably in pretty good shape.”

The scientific name for this process is nasal feedback, where smells flow from the back of your mouth through your nasal pharynx and into your nasal cavity.

But what if you don’t have jellybean? You can use other foods as well, Dr. Erich Voigt, ear, nose and throat specialist, director of the otolaryngology of sleep division at NYU Langone Health, said in an interview. former.

“The pure sense of smell would be if you could smell a particular substance that doesn’t stimulate other muscle nerves,” Voigt said. “If you smell ground coffee or brewing coffee, or if you smell someone peeling an orange, it’s smell.”

You have to be careful though, because it’s easy to think you’re using your sense of smell when you’re not, Voigt said.

“So, for example, ammonia or cleaning solutions, these stimulate the trigeminal nerve, which is an irritant nerve,” he said. “And so people will think, ‘Oh, I can smell Clorox, I can smell ammonia, which means I can smell.’ But no, that is not correct. They don’t really smell, they use the trigeminal nerve.

Still not sure if you’ve done it right? Check the internet for medically based scratch and sniffle tests.

Loss of smell is common

Of course, not everyone who fails a scent test will get coronavirus. Any respiratory virus, such as the common cold or the flu, will have a temporary impact on smell and taste, sometimes even permanently.

“The amount of swelling that can occur in the nose due to the viral effect can prevent odor particles from getting to the top of the nose, where the olfactory nerve is,” Voigt said. “When this swelling goes down, the sense of smell can come back.”

But there are also neurotoxic viruses, some of which fall into the common cold category, Voigt said.

“If they are neurotoxic, it means that they damage the olfactory nerve and it becomes essentially non-functional,” he added. “A lot of these cases can re-smell over time, but sometimes it’s a permanent loss.”

Chronic partial or complete loss of smell is incredibly common, Munger said, affecting millions of Americans long before the novel coronavirus broke out at the scene.

“About 13% of the population has a significant odor or taste alteration,” he said.

Besides the common cold and the flu, nasal polyps, tumors, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, and head trauma or head trauma, including whiplash, are other causes of loss of smell.

“If someone has been in a car accident or has had a whiplash or head injury, it could also affect the little nerves as they go from the brain to the nose,” Voigt said. “So a whiplash injury can also lead to a permanent loss of smell.”

Loss of taste is usually associated with loss of smell, as we rely on the smell to identify flavors. But there can also be medical reasons: certain drugs can affect the taste; chemotherapy and radiotherapy can certainly affect the taste; then there is physical damage, such as severed nerves during dental surgeries.

CNN wire
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