It is known to all that SARS-CoV2 alters the chemosensory functions. But, for how long? A cross-sectional study of 704 healthcare workers of which 84.2% were women with an RT-PCR confirmed SARS CoV-2 infection was conducted 3 to 7 months after the onset of symptoms. Based on the questionnaire answered by the participants it was found that, before COVID-19, the average self-reported score was 9.0, 9.2, and 8.9 on 10 for olfaction, gustation, and trigeminal function, respectively.
Among participants, 0.9%, 0.7%, and 1.8% reported an absence of olfaction, gustation, and trigeminal function, respectively. On being affected by COVID-19, the self-reported score lowered down to 2.6 for olfaction, 3.4 for gustation, and 7.0 for trigeminal sensitivity. 51.1%, 33.5%, and 5.7% reported the absence of olfaction, gustation, and trigeminal function after acquiring COVID-19. On further analysis, 11.1% reported parosmia, 10.4% experienced phantosmia, 11.6% had waxing and waning of olfaction following infection and 6% claimmed that they experienced other forms of olfactory dysfunction.
Furthermore, 39.1% of the participants reported alterations in all 5 tastes. It was also reported that chemosensory dysfunction was more prominent in women. Gender differences are due to a multitude of neuroendocrine, social, and cognitive factors Three to seven months later, reduced sensitivity was still reported by 52.0%, 41.9%, and 23.3% in olfactory, gustatory, and trigeminal functions respectively.
Thus, it can be concluded that the detrimental effect of COVID-19 lasts beyond the acute phase after the infection and persists up to 7 months. The chemosensory dysfunction was most pronounced for olfactory function, but less for gustatory function and least for trigeminal function. These insights regarding the chemosensory dysfunction associated with COVID-19 will be useful in analyzing the underlying mechanisms and possible therapeutic options.
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