Return to content in this issue


High frequency of smell and taste dysfunctions in allergy health care professionals suffering from COVID-19

Antolín-Amérigo D1*, Cubero JL2*, Colás C2, Alobid I3**, Mullol J4**, Valero A5**

1Allergy Department, Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Instituto Ramón y Cajal de Investigación Sanitaria (IRYCIS), Madrid, Spain.
2Allergy Department, Hospital Clínico Universitario Lozano Blesa, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Aragón (IIS Aragón), Zaragoza, Spain.
3Rhinology and Skull Base Unit, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Hospital Clinic, Universidad de Barcelona. IDIBAPS, CIBERES, Barcelona, Spain.
4Rhinology Unit & Smell Clinic, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Hospital Clinic, Universitat de Barcelona, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), CIBER of Respiratory Diseases (CIBERES). Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
5Department of Pneumology and Allergy, Hospital Clínic, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), CIBERES, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain.
*These authors contributed equally as first authors
**These authors contributed equally with senior responsibilities

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2021; Vol. 31(2)
doi: 10.18176/jiaci.0670

Introduction: Since the first stages of the novel coronavirus 2019 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak smell and/or taste dysfunction (STD), has been described from 5% to 88% in COVID-19 patients.
Objective: we aimed to assess STD in healthcare professionals (HCP), mainly allergists, affected with COVID-19, by means of a survey, and to evaluate the association of STD and their severity with demographic characteristics, symptoms, comorbidities, and hospital admission.
Methods: A 15-item questionnaire was designed including different sections as follows: demographics, diagnostic characteristics, STD patterns, medication use as well as comorbidities. The questionnaire was developed using Google forms, implemented and distributed to members of the Spanish Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (SEAIC) and spread via Social Media to be completed by HCP affected with COVID-19.
Results: HCP (n=234), 76.5% ≤55 yrs, 73.5% female, completed the survey. There was STD in up to 74.4% of the respondents, 95.6% reporting a moderate-severe impairment. Mean recovery time of taste dysfunction was 21.6±24.0 days in HCP ≤55 yrs and 33.61±26.2 days in >55 yrs (p=0.019). Stratified analysis by severity of STD showed that more than a half of COVID-19 subjects presented severe loss of smell. An older age (>55 yrs) was associated with fever, anorexia, less headache and with a longer persistence of taste dysfunction.
Conclusion: STD is a common symptom in COVID-19, even as a unique or preceding symptom. HCP who declared smell dysfunction (SD) were younger than those not affected with STD. Taste dysfunction (TD) may imply more systemic involvement in COVID-19-positive HCP. 

Key words: Smell dysfunction, Hyposmia, Anosmia, Taste dysfunction, Ageusia, Hypogeusia, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19