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Hot Topics: Loss of Smell May Mean Less Severe COVID-19

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Infectious Disease

Self‐reported olfactory loss associates with outpatient clinical course in Covid‐19

Yan CH, Faraji F, Prajapati DP, Ostrander BT, DeConde AS. Self-reported olfactory loss associates with outpatient clinical course in covid-19. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1002/alr.22592.

Background

Rapid spread of the SARS‐CoV‐2 virus has left many health systems around the world overwhelmed, forcing triaging of scarce medical resources. Identifying indicators of hospital admission for Covid‐19 patients early in the disease course could aid the efficient allocation of medical interventions. Self‐reported olfactory impairment has recently been recognized as a hallmark of Covid‐19 and may be an important predictor of clinical outcome.

Methods

A retrospective review of all patients presenting to a San Diego Hospital system with laboratory‐confirmed positive Covid‐19 infection was conducted with evaluation of olfactory and gustatory function and clinical disease course. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression were performed to identify risk factors for hospital admission and anosmia.

Results

A total of 169 patients tested positive for Covid‐19 disease between March 3 and April 8, 2020. Olfactory and gustatory data were obtained for 128/169 (75.7%) subjects of which 26/128 (20.1%) required hospitalization. Admission for Covid‐19 was associated with intact sense of smell and taste, increased age, diabetes, as well as subjective and objective parameters associated with respiratory failure. On adjusted analysis, anosmia was strongly and independently associated with outpatient care (aOR 0.09 95% CI: 0.01‐0.74) while positive findings of pulmonary infiltrates and/or pleural effusion on chest radiograph (aOR 8.01 95% CI: 1.12‐57.49) was strongly and independently associated with admission.

Conclusions

Normosmia is an independent predictor of admission in Covid‐19 cases. Smell loss in Covid‐19 may associate with a milder clinical course.