More than a million Americans may be living life without full use of their sense of smell, a new study finds.
Researchers from Washington University of St Louis found that somewhere between 170,000 and 1.6 million Americans may be struggling with so-called olfactory dysfunction as a result of COVID-19.
Loss of sense of smell can be especially dangerous because the sense can help protect people from some of the dangers around them.
How long people with Covid can have olfactory dysfunction, and whether it can be permanent, has not yet been determined.
Researchers estimate that somewhere between 170,000 and 1.6 million Americans may have lost their sense of smell as a result of COVID-19 infection (blue shadow)
Long Covid can affect a person in many ways, and experts are not exactly sure how or why. One expert believes that some of the effects of the condition related to the neurological system could be due to brain inflammation (file photo)
‘These data suggest an emerging public health concern of [olfactory dysfunction] and the urgent need for research that focuses on treating COVID-19 [olfactory dysfunction],’ the team wrote.
Researchers, who published their findings Thursday in JAMA Otolaryngology, used two separate findings of other studies to estimate the level of olfactory disorder in the U.S.
A meta-analysis finds that 52.7 percent of Americans who contract Covid will either lose or have an altered sense of smell.
It is estimated that around 95 percent of those people will quickly recover their sense of smell after they beat the virus.
That still leaves around one in every 20 Covid survivors who develop the condition who have it indefinitely.
In order to create a wider range, researchers used meta-analysis data to determine high and low estimates of the depth of the problem as well.
For the the lowest estimate, the team assumed that around 30 percent of Americans would suffer from olfactory disorder as a result of Covid, and that 98 percent would recover.
The high estimate assumed 75 percent of Americans who contract Covid would develop the condition, and only 92 percent would recover.
They then gathered national Covid data to estimate the amount of Americans who either had a positive, or believed positive, case of the virus.
Researchers found that average estimate of people living without a sense of smell due to Covid is around 700,000.
The estimate using the lowest possible figure finds 170,000 people struggling with the condition, and the highest estimate finds 1.6 million.
‘To put this number in context, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimated that, among US adults 40 years or older, measurable [olfactory disorder] was found in up to 13.3 million adults,’ researchers wrote.
The loss of the sense of smell is one of many symptoms Americans are suffering as a result of ‘long Covid’.
It is a mysterious condition where a person feels symptoms of COVID-19 long after recovery from the virus, and experts can not pin point why.
Symptoms can be wide ranging, from loss of smell and taste, fatigue, frequent headaches and even psychiatric delusions in some rare instances.
Dr Sam Pleasure, a neurology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, told DailyMail.com last month that the some of the symptoms, particularly the psychiatric symptoms and loss of smell, could be related to inflammation of the brain caused by Covid.
Due to the lack of knowledge currently available on long Covid, doctors have not found any universally recognized treatments for the condition.
Some patients have reported that their symptoms of long Covid lessoned after getting vaccinated, though.