Revealing the mystery of persistent smell loss in Long COVID patients

Int J Biol Sci. 2022 Jul 15;18(12):4795-4808. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.73485. eCollection 2022.


COVID-19 is hopefully approaching its end in many countries as herd immunity develops and weaker strains of SARS-CoV-2 dominate. However, a new concern occurs over the long-term effects of COVID-19, collectively called "Long COVID", as some symptoms of the nervous system last even after patients recover from COVID-19. This review focuses on studies of anosmia, i.e., impairment of smell, which is the most common sensory defect during the disease course and is caused by olfactory dysfunctions. It remains mysterious how the olfactory functions are affected since the virus can't invade olfactory receptor neurons. We describe several leading hypotheses about the mystery in hope to provide insights into the pathophysiology and treatment strategies for anosmia.

Keywords: COVID-19; long COVID; olfactory dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anosmia* / diagnosis
  • Anosmia* / virology
  • COVID-19* / complications
  • Humans
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome
  • SARS-CoV-2