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    This is a report on the high incidence of olfactory dysfunction in COVID-19 patients in the first cohort of COVID-19 patients in Germany (Webasto cluster). Loss of sense of smell and/or taste was reported by 26 of 63 COVID-19 patients (41%), whereas only 31% of the patients experiencing hyposmia had simultaneous symptoms of rhinitis. Smell tests were performed in 14 of these patients and taste tests in 10. The measurements were conducted in a patient care setting in an early COVID-19 cohort. An olfactory disorder was present in 10/14 patients, before as well as after nasal decongestion. In 2 of these patients, hyposmia was the leading or only symptom of SARS-CoV‑2 infection. All tested patients reported recovery of smell and/or taste within 8 to 23 days. The data imply that a) COVID-19 can lead to hyposmia in a relevant number of patients, the incidence was approximately 30% in this cohort; b) in most cases, the olfactory disturbance was not associated with nasal obstruction, thus indicating a possible neurogenic origin; and c) the olfactory disorder largely resolved within 1-3 weeks after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. There were no indications of an increased incidence of dysgeusia. These early data may help in the interpretation of COVID-19-associated hyposmia as well as in the counseling of patients, given the temporary nature of hyposmia observed in this study. Furthermore, according to the current experience, hyposmia without rhinitic obstruction can be the leading or even the only symptom of a SARS-CoV‑2 infection.


    S Bocksberger, W Wagner, T Hummel, W Guggemos, M Seilmaier, M Hoelscher, C-M Wendtner. Temporary hyposmia in COVID-19 patients]. HNO. 2020 Jun;68(6):440-443

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    PMID: 32451564

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