An acute loss of smell is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, but for two decades it has been linked to other maladies among them Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Now, a poor sense of smell may signify a higher risk of pneumonia in older adults, says a team of Michigan State University researchers.
A Monell Chemical Senses Center and Temple University team recently became part of a new, multi-institute National Institute of Health (NIH)-funded initiative called the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostic Radical program (RADx). The NIH invested $107 million at 43 institutions across the country to support non-traditional and repurposed technologies to combat the pandemic and address future viral disease outbreaks.
Do I have COVID-19 or is it something else? Bobby Tajudeen, MD, director of rhinology, sinus surgery and skull base surgery at Rush University Medical Center explains the differences between common smell loss and smell loss as a COVID-19 symptom and when to see a specialist.
Studies that used direct measures versus self-report of smell loss could explain the a wide range of estimates – studies using direct measures, about 77% of COVID-19 patients had smell loss versus only 44% with self-report.
Direct measures of smell ability involve having patients smell and report on actual odorants, whereas self-report methods include obtaining data through patient questionnaires, interviews, or electronic health records. Direct measures are objective whereas self-report are subjective measures of a person’s experience.