Volume: 61 - Issue: 1
First page: 12 - Last page: 23
S. Winkelmann - A. Korth - B. Voss - M.A. Nasr - N. Behrend - A. Pudszuhn - V.M. Hofmann - P. Schendzielorz - C. Maetzler - A. Hermes - C. Borzikowsky - T. Bahmer - W. Lieb - S. Schreiber - S. Störk - F.A. Montellano - M. Witzenrath - T. Keil - M. Krawczak - M. Laudien - on behalf of the NAPKON study group
Background: Chemosensory dysfunction (CD) has been reported as a common symptom of SARS-CoV-2 infection, but it is not well understood whether and for how long changes of smell, taste and chemesthesis persist in infected individuals.
Methodology: Unselected adult residents of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-test-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were invited to participate in this large cross-sectional study. Data on the medical history and subjective chemosensory function of participants were obtained through questionnaires and visual analogue scales (VAS). Olfactory function (OF) was objectified with the Sniffin’ Sticks test (SST), including threshold (T), discrimination (D) and identification (I) test as well as summarized TDI score, and compared to that in healthy controls. Gustatory function (GF) was evaluated with the suprathreshold taste strips (TS) test, and trigeminal function was tested with an ampoule containing ammonia.
Results: Between November 2020 and June 2021, 667 infected individuals (mean age: 48.2 years) were examined 9.1 months, on average, after positive PCR testing. Of these, 45.6% had persisting subjective olfactory dysfunction (OD), 36.2% had subjective gustatory dysfunction (GD). Tested OD, tested GD and impaired trigeminal function were observed in 34.6%, 7.3% and 1.8% of participants, respectively. The mean TDI score of participants was significantly lower compared to healthy subjects. Significant associations were observed between subjective OD and GD, and between tested OD and GD.
Conclusion: Nine months after SARS-CoV-2 infection, OD prevalence is significantly increased among infected members of the general population. Therefore, OD should be included in the list of symptoms collectively defining Long-COVID.
Rhinology 61-1: 12-23, 2023
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