A third of people with long COVID suffer persistent smell loss

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Long COVID is a complex condition that develops during or after having COVID, and it is classified as such when symptoms continue for more than 12 weeks.

Symptoms include headache, myalgia, fatigue, and loss of taste and smell. Parosmia can persist for months after the initial infection, alongside brain fog and memory loss.

In a study from the University of East Anglia, scientists found smell loss is one of the most prevalent symptoms of long COVID.

They found that almost a third of long COVID patients suffer persistent smell loss, with nearly a fifth experiencing loss of taste.

The team says that Christmas in particular can be a difficult time for people who have lost their sense of smell and taste—who will be missing out on smells like the Christmas tree and mulled wine or being able to taste their Christmas dinner, mince pies, and chocolates.

In the study, the team examined the prevalence of long COVID, particularly ear, nose, and throat-related symptoms such as smell loss and parosmia—where people experience strange and often unpleasant smell distortions.

They looked at results from the U.K. Coronavirus Infection Survey and analyzed information from over 360,000 people in March 2022.

A total of 10,431 participants identified as suffering from long COVID and were asked about the presence of 23 individual symptoms and the impact of the condition on their day-to-day activities.

Self-reported long COVID was defined as symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after the first suspected coronavirus infection but not explained by another condition.

The team found that almost three percent of the participants self-identified as having long COVID, and if we scale this up to reflect the U.K. population, it will equate to around 1.8 million people.

They found that fatigue was the most common symptom, whilst ENT-related symptoms included a loss of smell and taste, vertigo, shortness of breath, wheezing, and a sore throat.

Almost a third of self-reported long COVID patients suffered persistent smell loss, and nearly a fifth were still experiencing loss of taste.

This is really important because we know that loss of smell and taste really impacts people’s lives.

Previous research has shown that people who have lost their sense of smell also report high rates of depression, anxiety, isolation, and relationship difficulties.

The team says long COVID is a growing problem in the U.K. and they need to focus resources on supporting people with loss of smell and taste after COVID infection.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about which COVID vaccine you get could affect your heart inflammation risk, and Vitamin D level could determine COVID-19 severity.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about the causes of most major cancers, and results showing the new drug to treat both COVID-19 and cancer.

The study was conducted by Prof Carl Philpott et al and published in the journal International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology.

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