Edmonton — Four out of five COVID-19 survivors notice a return to smell or taste within six months of contracting the novel coronavirus, with people under 40 having more of these senses than older adults likely to be cured, according to a Ongoing survey of COVID-19 patients Organized by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

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Of the 798 respondents to the ongoing COVID-19 Smell and Taste Loss Survey, who had tested positive for the disease and reported loss of those senses, those who were less than 40 years old had their sense of smell and taste older. was recovered at a higher rate than people. 40.

“With our group, we saw an almost 80 percent recovery rate over six months or more,” study co-investigator Evan Reiter said in a press release. “However, 20 percent is still a lot, giving millions of people suffering from COVID-19.”


Referred to by the medical community as parosmia, this condition occurs when receptor cells in the nose do not properly detect and translate odors to the brain. This can happen after a bad cold or sinus infection, a head injury, and seizures.

Parosmia has also been associated with a complete loss of smell and taste, called anosmia, which has become a hallmark sign of COVID-19.

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previous studies Loss of smell may account for 40 to 68 percent of COVID-19 cases, most often with mild to moderate cases, and that affects more women than men.

Results published last month in the American Journal of Otolaryngology show that patients with a history of head injuries were less likely to recover their sense of smell.

Those who experienced shortness of breath when sick with COVID-19 were also less likely to recover. On the other hand, those who experienced simple nasal congestion were more likely to regain their sense of smell.

Reiter said in the release, “The increased likelihood of recovery of smell in subjects with nasal congestion is simply because you may lose your sense of smell because you are severely congested and the smell cannot get into your nose.” Is.”

“Certainly, a subgroup of congested people may have lost their sense of smell because they were severely congested, rather than nerve damage caused by the virus, as in other cases.”

Researchers at VCU began tracking COVID-19 patients in April 2020, with widespread reports of patients becoming paler and younger. Nearly 3,000 people over the age of 18 in the US took part in the study, which tracks symptoms over time.

In April, VCU researchers released survey data that suggested 43 percent of participants felt depressed and 56 percent reported a decrease in the enjoyment of life without their sense of taste and smell.

Unsurprisingly, the most common quality of life concern was reduced enjoyment of food, with 87 percent of respondents saying this was an issue. However, loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss remain challenges for those patients.

“The more we learn from those affected, the better we can advise their health care providers and even the individuals themselves on how to manage those symptoms,” said lead author Daniel Coelho. Written in the press release.

“Through this study, we continue to gain a clearer picture of COVID-19 risks to quality of life, safety, and long-term health and well-being while seeking answers on treatment.”

Thanks to COVID-19, much attention has been paid to finding a solution for people with anosmia – a mission VCU researchers have undertaken Dedicated since 2018.

Coelho and the study’s senior author Richard Costanzo are working on early-stage development of an implant device to restore the sense of smell modeled after a cochlear implant.

In people with hearing loss, the cochlear effect bypasses damaged parts of the ear to deliver electrical signals to the auditory nerve, re-routing the signal to the brain. Coelho and Costanzo theorized that they could develop a similar device that would use tiny gas sensors to detect odor molecules and use electrical signals to stimulate the olfactory bulb that produces the odor.

Although the device is still only a prototype, the researchers are optimistic that, when it becomes operational, it could be a source of hope for people with permanent smell loss.