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Invited Commentary
July 2, 2020

Treatment Recommendations for Persistent Smell and Taste Dysfunction Following COVID-19—The Coming Deluge

Author Affiliations
  • 1Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, Atlanta, Georgia
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online July 2, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.1378

In their study, “Evolution of Altered Sense of Smell or Taste in Patients With Mildly Symptomatic COVID-19,” Boscolo-Rizzo et al1 present the first insight into olfactory outcomes following coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among a population of Italian patients with otherwise mild disease. This cohort was previously used to establish alterations in self-reported sense of smell and taste as important symptoms of COVID-19, finding a prevalence of 64.4% among the 202 patients treated at home for mildly symptomatic disease.2 In this important follow-up study, approximately 90% of participants experienced improved olfactory symptoms 4 weeks following initial diagnosis, with 48.7% reporting complete resolution of symptoms during this time. This encouraging finding is consistent with other preliminary reports of high rates of olfactory recovery among patients with COVID-19,3 but is in stark contrast to other forms of postinfectious smell and taste dysfunction, which are characterized by recalcitrant symptoms in 40% to 60% of those affected.4

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