A new study published on Thursday tries to quantify a life-altering side effect of covid-19: anosmia, or a persistent loss of smell. According to the study, published here, up to 1.6 million persons in the United States have had chronic anosmia for at least six months after contracting the coronavirus.
Anosmia can be carried on by a variety of factors, including respiratory virus infections such as covid-19. However, it took a long time for anosmia to be recognized as a distinct symptom of covid-19, one that may be more common in moderate instances. This loss of smell is frequently accompanied by a loss of taste, as the two senses are intertwined. People can also develop parosmia, which is a warped sense of smell that causes everyday scents to smell like garbage, sewage, or other foul odors.
Anosmia can affect up from 30% to 80% of covid-19 patients, according to studies. However, studies show that most people (up to 90%) restore their sniffer sense in as little as two weeks, presumably because the virus affects the cells that support the olfactory nerve rather than the nerve itself. Because so many people in the United States have contracted covid-19, even a relatively uncommon complication like long-term anosmia can nonetheless afflict a large number of people.
This new study, which was published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery on Thursday, appears to be one of the first to attempt to estimate the cost of chronic covid-related anosmia in the United States. After encountering several of these individuals in their clinics, the writers felt motivated to research the topic.
“My colleagues and I have noticed a huge increase in the number of people seeking medical attention for olfactory impairment in the previous few months.” In an email to Gizmodo, study author Jay Piccirillo, an otolaryngologist at Washington University in St. Louis and an editor at JAMA Otolaryngology, said.
Based on estimations of covid-19’s spread, the probabilities of someone having anosmia after infection, and the possibility of persistent anosmia, Piccirillo and his team projected a range of instances. They discovered that, in the most likely situations, between 700,000 and 1.6 million Americans (as of August 2021) have lost or changed their sense of smell for more than six months as a result of covid-19. The number of people with parosmia is included in this total, albeit no particular figures are known for that category. The authors speculate that these figures are an underestimation and that the pandemic is still ongoing, with many more Americans contracting covid-19 in the months ahead.