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COVID-19 related chemosensory changes in individuals with self-reported obesity

Volume: 60 - Issue: 2

First page: 128 - Last page: 138

S. Bhutani - G. Coppin - M.G. Veldhuizen - V. Parma - P.V. Joseph

Background/objectives: Self-reported smell loss is a prominent symptom of COVID-19 infection and a potentially useful clinical tool for remote pre-screening of this disease. However, pre-existing chemosensory dysfunction with obesity may diminish the usefulness of self-reported smell loss in this vulnerable group. Here we aim to compare COVID-19 related chemosensory alterations in participants with and without obesity and determine if self-reported smell loss is predictive of lab-based COVID-19 diagnosis in both groups in the context of restrictive clinical data collection.
Subjects/methods: In this secondary analysis of a cross-sectional global dataset, we compared self-reported chemosensory ability in participants with a respiratory illness reporting a positive (C19+; n = 5156) or a negative (C19-; n = 659) COVID-19 laboratory test outcome, who also self-reported to have obesity (C19+; n = 433, C19-; n = 86) or not.
Results: Participants with obesity and without obesity reported a similar decline in smell, taste, and chemesthesis during illness. In C19+ participants with obesity, we observed a greater relative prevalence of non-chemosensory symptoms, including respiratory and GI symptoms. Critically, we found that the model previously proposed also predicts C19+ diagnosis in participants with obesity.
Conclusions: We conclude that COVID-19 respondents with obesity experience a similar self-reported chemosensory loss as those without obesity. In both groups self-reported chemosensory symptoms are similarly predictive of COVID-19 infection, thus highlighting the potential of collecting self-report of symptoms and comorbidities remotely when clinical observations are restrictive.

Rhinology 60-2: 128-138, 2022

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