COVID 19-Induced Smell and Taste Impairments: Putative Impact on Physiology

Front Physiol. 2021 Jan 26;11:625110. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.625110. eCollection 2020.


Smell and taste impairments are recognized as common symptoms in COVID 19 patients even in an asymptomatic phase. Indeed, depending on the country, in up to 85-90% of cases anosmia and dysgeusia are reported. We will review briefly the main mechanisms involved in the physiology of olfaction and taste focusing on receptors and transduction as well as the main neuroanatomical pathways. Then we will examine the current evidences, even if still fragmented and unsystematic, explaining the disturbances and mode of action of the virus at the level of the nasal and oral cavities. We will focus on its impact on the peripheral and central nervous system. Finally, considering the role of smell and taste in numerous physiological functions, especially in ingestive behavior, we will discuss the consequences on the physiology of the patients as well as management regarding food intake.

Keywords: COVID 19; feeding behavior; physiopathology; smell; taste.

Publication types

  • Review