Background: Smell and taste disorders occur in COVID-19 with a high prevalence, but little is known about the duration of the symptoms. In particular, studies using validated olfactory tests are very rare to date.
Aims/objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the olfactory function of COVID-19 recoveries by a detailed olfactory test.
Methods: 91 patients with PCR-confirmed, past COVID-19 disease were included. Olfactory history was taken using a questionnaire. Olfactory function was evaluated with the sniffin' sticks test, tasting function with taste sprays.
Results: 80 patients had experienced sudden olfactory loss during the course of disease and at the time of testing, 33 patients subjectively still had an impaired olfactory sense. Around 8 weeks had passed since the onset of symptoms. 45.1% of the tested individuals were still hyposmic according to the olfactory test while 53.8% showed an olfactory performance within the normal range. Patients' self-assessment correlated poorly with the measured olfactory performance.
Conclusions and significance: Half of the patients with an olfactory loss as a symptom of COVID-19 still have olfactory impairments after two months, although not all of these patients subjectively notice a restriction. Long-term measurements must confirm whether all affected patients will make full recovery.
Keywords: Covid-19; Sars-CoV-2; Sniffin’ sticks; smell disorders; smell test.