Covid-19 and Smell Loss

Temporary loss of smell, or anosmia, is the main neurological symptom and one of the earliest and most reported indicators of COVID-19. Studies suggest it better predicts the disease than other well-known symptoms such as fever and cough. Many COVID-19 patients experience some level of anosmia, most often temporary. Analyses of electronic health records indicate that COVID-19 patients are 27 times more likely to have smell loss but are only around 2.2 to 2.6 times more likely to have fever, cough or respiratory difficulty, compared to patients without COVID-19. COVID-19 patients typically recover their sense of smell over the course of weeks—much faster than the months it can take to recover from anosmia caused by a subset of viral infections known to directly damage olfactory sensory neurons. While many people report a loss of taste as a primary symptom, it’s the loss of smell that’s often a worse culprit since most of what we perceive as taste is a combination of smell and taste.