Background: It has been noted that olfactory and gustatory disturbances may precede or accompany the typical features of COVID-19, such as fever and cough. Hence, a high index of suspicion is required when patients report sudden loss of smell or taste, in order to facilitate timely diagnosis and isolation.Aims/objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the frequency of olfactory and gustatory disturbances in COVID-19 positive patients from a cohort representative of Melbourne, Australia.Methods: A retrospective descriptive study was conducted on patients who tested positive for COVID-19. Standardised phone consultations and online follow-up questionnaires were performed to assess clinical features of COVID-19, with a focus on smell and taste disorders.Results: The most frequent symptoms experienced were taste and smell disturbances with 74% experiencing either smell or taste disturbance or both. Post-recovery, 34% of patients continued to experience ongoing hyposmia and 2% anosmia, whereas 28% continued to suffer from hypogeusia or ageusia.Conclusion and significance: This study presents the high rates of improvement of both olfactory and gustatory disturbance in a short-lived period. It also highlights the importance of these symptoms in prompting appropriate testing, quarantine precautions, initiate early olfactory retraining and the potential for continued sensory disturbance.
Keywords: COVID-19; ageusia; anosmia; hypogeusia; hyposmia; smell; taste.