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It remains unclear for how long olfactory and gustatory losses persevere in patients with COVID-19. This is a prospective study of 300 patients who lost taste and smell within seven days of contracting COVID-19. The patients were objectively assessed with psychophysical tests at one, two, three and six months after the first evaluation, which was done at seven days. At the beginning, about 60% of these patients had olfactory or gustatory dysfunction, these disorders being mostly severe. In the two-month follow-up, olfactory improvement was statistically significant, but this did not change much at the end of six months, with 27% still having persistent loss of smell. Improvement in taste was faster in the first month but slowed down thereafter, with 10% of patients still having gustatory disturbance. Three had complete ageusia. The initial improvement was statistically significant. This study shows that, unless proved otherwise in the longer term, any useful recovery of olfactory and gustatory loss is unlikely after the first two months. It is conceived that elderly population with lesser neural regenerative potential and those with more severe chemosensory loss initially, are less likely to recover. An important message from this study is that early specific therapies must be initiated to effectively treat COVID-19 patients with chemosensory disorders in the first month or two rather than reassessing later and treating if required.

Six-month smell and taste recovery rates in coronavirus disease 2019 patients: a prospective psychophysical study.
Petrocelli M, Cutrupi S, Salzano G, et al.
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Madhup K Chaurasia

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, UK.

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