Smell Disturbance

January 19, 2021

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Anchor lead: Both loss and altered sense of smell are features of Covid-19, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Smell and taste aren’t just senses that improve our lives, they also help keep us safe by alerting us to the smell of something burning or the taste of a food that may have spoiled. Andrew Lane, an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins, says that’s why persistent loss of these senses after Covid infection is so troubling.

Lane: There’s a very high rate of olfactory loss with Covid. Maybe 80%. Most people recover spontaneously. There’s some subset of people who have olfactory disturbances, either a change in their sense of smell where things don’t smell exactly right, or maybe they have higher thresholds where they can’t smell things until they become very intense. They may not know that they don’t have a sense of smell and they may say that generally it feels normal to them but if you test and look carefully you can see that there’s still some dysfunction that can persist for longer periods of time.  :29

Lane says anyone whose taste and smell are compromised for a prolonged period of time after Covid infection should likely be evaluated. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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