Altered smell and taste: Anosmia, parosmia and the impact of long Covid-19

Duika L. Burges Watson*, Miglena Campbell, Claire Hopkins, Barry Smith, Chris Kelly, Vincent Deary

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Qualitative olfactory (smell) dysfunctions are a common side effect of post-viral illness and known to impact quality of life and health status. Evidence is emerging that taste and smell loss are common symptoms of Covid-19 that may emerge and persist long after initial infection. The aim of the present study was to document the impact of post Covid-19 alterations to taste and smell. Methods: We conducted exploratory thematic analysis of user-generated text from 9000 users of the AbScent Covid-19 Smell and Taste Loss moderated Facebook support group from March 24 to 30th September 2020. Results: Participants reported difficulty explaining and managing an altered sense of taste and smell; a lack of interpersonal and professional explanation or support; altered eating; appetite loss, weight change; loss of pleasure in food, eating and social engagement; altered intimacy and an altered relationship to self and others. Conclusions: Our findings suggest altered taste and smell with Covid-19 may lead to severe disruption to daily living that impacts on psychological well-being, physical health, relationships and sense of self. More specifically, participants reported impacts that related to reduced desire and ability to eat and prepare food; weight gain, weight loss and nutritional insufficiency; emotional wellbeing; professional practice; intimacy and social bonding; and the disruption of people’s sense of reality and themselves. Our findings should inform further research and suggest areas for the training, assessment and treatment practices of health care professionals working with long Covid.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0256998
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sep 2021

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