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Olfactory dysfunction in the COVID-19 outbreak

Izquierdo-Dominguez A1,2,3¶, Rojas-Lechuga MJ4,5,6, Mullol J* 4,5,6, Alobid I2,4,5,6* ¶

1Allergy Department, Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
2Unidad Alergo Rino, Centro Médico Teknon. Barcelona, Spain.
3Allergy Department, Clínica Diagonal. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
4Rhinology Unit & Smell Clinic, ENT Department, Hospital Clinic Barcelona, CIBERES, Universitat de Barcelona. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
5Clinical & Experimental Respiratory Immunoallergy, IDIBAPS. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
6CIBER of Respiratory Diseases (CIBERES), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
*These authors share senior author responsibilities
These authors contribute as corresponding authors

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2020; Vol. 30(5)
doi: 10.18176/jiaci.0567

The first cases of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) occurred in Wuhan, China, and rapidly become a public health emergency of international proportions. The disease may cause mild-to-severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and is caused by a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection. The clinical manifestations of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, fatigue, sputum production, shortness of breath, sore throat, and headache. This article is a narrative review with the aim of analyzing the current literature on postviral olfactory dysfunction (OD) related to SARS-CoV-2 pandemics. Since the initial anecdotal reports from China, international reports on COVID-19 patients have been increasing, describing a 5% to 85% range of loss of smell. To date, the literature is widely heterogeneous regarding the loss of smell; therefore, we advise home isolation measures and/or social distancing, and to carry out diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 when possible in those patients with sudden and severe loss of smell who cannot be promptly evaluated.

Key words: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Taste disorder, Smell loss, Anosmia, SARS-CoV-2.