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Loss of smell in 86% of mild COVID-19 cases

A reduced sense of smell, or olfactory dysfunction, is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, has examined its prevalence and recovery in patients with varying degrees of severity of COVID-19.

In the study of 2581 patients from 18 European hospitals, the patient-reported prevalence of olfactory dysfunction was 85.9% in mild cases of COVID-19, 4.5% in moderate cases, and 6.9% in severe-to-critical cases.

The average duration of olfactory dysfunction reported by patients was 21.6 days, but nearly one-quarter of affected patients reported that they did not recover their sense of smell 60 days after losing it.


85.9% In the study of 2581 patients from 18 European hospitals, the patient-reported prevalence of olfactory dysfunction was 85.9% in mild cases of COVID-19.


Objective clinical evaluations identified olfactory dysfunction in 54.7% of mild cases of COVID-19 and 36.6% of moderate-to-critical cases of COVID-19. At 60 days and six months, 15.3% and 4.7% of these patients did not objectively recover their sense of smell, respectively.

Jerome R Lechien, lead author, said: “Olfactory dysfunction is more prevalent in mild COVID-19 forms than in moderate-to-critical forms, and 95% of patients recover their sense of smell at six months.”  

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Image Credit | iStock

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