Women seem to be more affected than men.
About 5% of people with Covid-19 experience a lasting disturbance of smell or taste, estimates a large study published on Thursday, July 28, while it is still largely unknown how long this emblematic symptom of the disease can last.
“A significant percentage of patients with Covid-19 appear to develop a lasting change in the sense of taste or smell,” conclude the authors of this work published in one of the leading scientific journals, the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
5% of patients
Two and a half years after the start of the pandemic, the loss of taste and smell, or their disturbance, are now among the symptoms known as the most specific of Covid.
But there is a great lack of figures on their frequency and, above all, on the time it takes to subside and disappear.
To answer this, the BMJ study compiled some twenty previous papers, representing a total of over 3,500 patients. This approach gives this type of study more weight than isolated work.
At the end of this study, the authors conclude that after six months, 2% of patients say they have not regained their taste and 4% do the same with their sense of smell.
There is, however, a vagueness as to whether these senses have been fully, or only partially, recovered. Taking this into account, the researchers estimate that these senses are permanently disturbed in about 5% of patients – 5.6% for smell and 4.4% for taste.
Women more affected than men
Women appear to be more affected than men, which the study cannot explain.
The authors, however, propose a trace. Sensitivity to smell and taste tends to be greater at baseline in women; the latter will therefore more easily notice a disturbance.
This study has, in fact, chosen to keep only the works that are based on the statements of the patients themselves on the fact that they have regained taste and smell. The latter are not evaluated by objective tests.
According to the authors, their figures would likely be higher if studies based on this type of test were included. Objective assessments tend to report more taste or smell problems than patients say.
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