According to new research published Thursday, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a “emerging public health concern” of people losing their sense of smell.
According to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, between 700,000 and 1.6 million people in the United States with Covid-19 have lost or experienced a change in their sense of smell that lasts longer than six months. According to the authors from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, this is most likely an underestimate.
According to the study, most people regain their sense of smell over time, but some never do. The authors are concerned about this because, prior to the pandemic, only 13.3 million adults aged 40 and older had olfactory dysfunction (OD) or chronic olfactory dysfunction, as defined by scientists (COD).
“These findings point to an emerging public health concern of OD and the urgent need for research into COVID-19 COD treatment,” the study concluded.
According to a study published last year, 72 percent of people with Covid-19 regained their sense of smell after a month, but it takes longer for some.
According to John Hayes, director of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences’ Sensory Evaluation Center, “the long-term disease burden from this, we’re literally going to be dealing with this for decades.” Hayes was not involved in the research, but he has done research in the field.
He believes that the study’s estimated number of people with this problem is conservative, and that the problem could affect many more millions.
While a long-term loss of smell may seem insignificant in comparison to other long-term Covid symptoms like chronic fatigue or heart problems, not being able to smell can be dangerous, he said.
People who have lost their sense of smell are more than twice as likely as those who have retained their sense of smell to experience hazards such as eating spoiled food, according to a 2014 study. In previous studies, the loss of one’s sense of smell has been linked to depression.