Is there a relationship between COVID-19 infection and the loss of smell and taste?

Bottom Line:

Not only do many COVID-19 patients experience a loss of smell and taste, but recovery from the disease is also correlated with improvements in those sensory symptoms.


Yan, C.H. et al. Association of chemosensory dysfunction and Covid‐19 in patients presenting with influenza‐like symptoms. International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology (2020). DOI: 10.1002/alr.22579

Date Published:

12 April 2020


The loss of smell and taste, known as chemosensory dysfunction, was first reported in numerous COVID-19 cases in Iran and Italy. Using data collected from 59 COVID-19-positive patients, impairment in smell and taste were reported in 68% and 71% of cases, respectively. Compared to other symptoms of the disease, including fatigue, fever, muscle pain and diarrhea, smell and taste deficits showed the strongest association with COVID-19 infection. These results support the current theory that the virus targets and damages cells within the nose. Importantly, recovery from the disease strongly correlated with improvements in chemosensory functions. Together, the loss of smell and taste may be potential screening symptoms to prevent transmission in mildly symptomatic individuals.

Summary by: Edwin Wong