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Smell, Taste Impairment Linked to COVID-19 Positivity

Most of those reporting COVID-19-linked loss of smell had resolution with clinical resolution of illness

TUESDAY, April 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Smell and taste impairment are strongly associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) positivity, according to a study published online April 12 in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology.

Carol H. Yan, M.D., from the University of California San Diego Health in La Jolla, and colleagues examined the timing and association of smell/taste loss in COVID-19 in a single-institution, cross-sectional study.

From March 3 to 29, 2020, a total of 1,480 patients with influenza-like symptoms underwent COVID-19 testing; data were included for 59 of 102 COVID-19-positive patients and 203 of 1,378 COVID-19-negative patients. The researchers found that 68 and 71 percent of COVID-19-positive patients reported smell and taste loss, respectively, compared with 16 and 17 percent of COVID-19-negative patients. Independent and strong associations were seen for smell and taste impairment with COVID-19 positivity (anosmia: adjusted odds ratio, 10.9; ageusia: adjusted odds ratio, 10.2); sore throat correlated with COVID-19 negativity (adjusted odds ratio, 0.23). Seventy-four percent of patients who reported COVID-19-associated loss of smell reported resolution of anosmia with clinical resolution of illness.

"This study offers support for using smell/taste loss as a symptom for heightened screening of COVID-19 infections in an effort to decrease the risk of disease transmission from mildly symptomatic cases," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the medical device industry.

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