Loss of smell and taste in COVID-19 patients linked to low QOL, depression: Study
USA: COVID-19 associated loss of smell or taste may have a substantial impact on quality of life and may lead to depression, and loss of appetite, a recent study has revealed. The findings of the study are published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology.
Substantial attention has been given to the association between COVID-19 and chemosensory loss, however to date, not much is known about the real-life consequences of impairment in this unique patient population. Considering this, Daniel H.Coelho, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, USA, and colleagues aimed to evaluate the quality of life (QOL) and personal safety deficits experienced by patients with COVID-19 infection.
For this purpose, the researchers launched a longitudinal web-based nationwide survey of adults with COVID-19 and/or a sudden change in smell and taste on April 10, 2020. Previously published questions on chemosensory-related QOL and safety events were asked at the 6-month follow-up survey.
As of February 10, 2021, 480 eligible respondents took the 6-month questionnaire, of whom 322 were COVID-19 positive.
Key findings of the study include:
- Impact on QOL was substantial with 96% of subjects reporting at least one of the defined deficits, and over 75% reporting at least 3 of these.
- "Reduced enjoyment of food" was the most common complaint (87%), while 43% of subjects self-reported depression.
- The prevalence of safety-related issues was common in this population, with over 57% reporting at least one, and 36% reporting 2 or more events.
- Of the events asked, the inability to smell smoke that others could perceive was the most common at 45%.
"COVID-19 associated chemosensory losses have a real and substantial impact on both quality of life and safety, beyond mere inconvenience," wrote the authors.
Almost all reported quality of life deficits with almost half indicating depression. Likewise, over half experienced personal safety-related issues.
"The high prevalence of these issues despite a relatively short period of olfactory deficit should alert clinicians to the serious risks to an already vulnerable patient population," concluded the authors.
The study titled, "Quality of life and safety impact of COVID-19 associated smell and taste disturbances," is published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology.