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COVID's Toll on Sense of Smell Is Temporary

Study of 97 patients shows 96% recovery rate after 1 year
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2021 12:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – It was four months after testing positive for COVID-19 that Julie Carte discovered an unfortunate complication: The food she put in her mouth tasted like "poison." What's worse, "my own sweet and innocent baby’s scent started to make me feel sick to my stomach," the California resident writes in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Carte is one of many COVID-19 patients suffering from parosmia, a distortion of smell sometimes coupled with anosmia, the partial or complete loss of smell. "Many of us who are suffering from parosmia can only taste and smell sewage, which we all now describe as smelling or tasting 'COVID-19,'" Carte writes. The good news is that the condition is likely to end within a year, according to a study published Thursday in JAMA Network Open.

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The study followed 97 patients who'd lost their sense of taste and smell and reported their progress in four-month intervals. The rate of a recovery after a year was 96%. All participants in a group of 46 reported a full recovery after one year, while all but two participants in a group of 51, which underwent additional testing, reported a full recovery after eight months, per CNN. Notably, those who underwent additional testing were found to be fully recovered sooner than they reported themselves. Of the two outliers, one was able to smell, though abnormally, after a year, but the other still couldn't smell or taste at all. The study group consisted mainly of women and those under 50—"factors positively associated with full olfactory recovery." (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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