Association of chemosensory dysfunction and Covid‐19 in patients presenting with influenza‐like symptoms
Yang, Carol H. et al.
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[Abstract]. Background: Rapid spread of the SARS‐CoV‐2 virus and concern for viral transmission by ambulatory patients with minimal to no symptoms underline the importance of identifying early or subclinical symptoms of Covid‐19 infection. Two such candidate symptoms include anecdotally reported loss of smell and taste. Understanding the timing and association of smell/taste loss in Covid‐19 may help facilitate screening and early isolation of cases. Methods: A single‐institution, cross‐sectional study evaluating patient‐reported symptoms with a focus on smell and taste was conducted using an internet‐based platform on adult subjects who underwent testing for Covid‐19. Logistic regression was employed to identify symptoms associated with Covid‐19 positivity. Results: A total of 1480 patients with influenza‐like symptoms underwent Covid‐19 testing between March 3 through 29, 2020. Our study captured 59 of 102 (58%) Covid‐19‐positive patients and 203 of 1378 (15%) Covid‐19‐negative patients. Smell and taste loss were reported in 68% (40/59) and 71% (42/59) of Covid‐19‐positive subjects, respectively, compared to 16% (33/203) and 17% (35/203) of Covid‐19‐negative patients (p<0.001). Smell and taste impairment were independently and strongly associated with Covid‐19‐positivity (anosmia: adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 10.9, 95%CI:5.08‐23.5; ageusia: aOR 10.2 95%CI:4.74‐22.1); whereas, sore throat was associated with Covid‐19‐negativity (aOR 0.23, 95%CI:0.11‐0.50). Of patients who reported Covid‐19‐associated loss of smell, 74% (28/38) reported resolution of anosmia with clinical resolution of illness. Conclusions: In ambulatory individuals with influenza‐like symptoms, chemosensory dysfunction was strongly associated with Covid‐19 infection and should be considered when screening symptoms. Most will recover chemosensory function within weeks paralleling resolution of other disease‐related symptoms.