Loss of smell following COVID linked to a person's immune reaction to the infection

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, the University of Pennsylvania, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the New York State Psychiatric Institute has found that a person's loss of taste or smell due to a COVID-19 infection may be linked to the intensity of their immune response.

In their paper published on the open-access site PLOS ONE, the group describes studying antibody levels in hundreds of patients who had COVID-19 infections to learn more about why some patients lost their sense of smell or taste.

Shortly after the pandemic began, reports suggested that some people infected with COVID-19 lost their sense of taste or smell. Initially, were not surprised by such reports because many lead to some loss of smell and taste. Prior research has shown this is because such infections often lead to inflammation in the .

But as the pandemic deepened, it became clear that the loss of taste or smell with COVID-19 infections was different—for some people, it was complete and long-lasting—in some cases, it lasted so long they feared they would never get their senses back. The passage of time has shown that such fears were unwarranted, as the senses eventually returned. But scientists were still left to determine what had caused the loss of senses in some patients and not in others.

They studied antibody levels in people infected during the early days of the pandemic—in all, they studied of 306 people who had donated blood for study after recovering from a COVID-19 infection. In comparing the antibody levels with other data provided by the donors and their doctors, the researchers determined that those people who had higher tended to be the same people who had reported losing their or taste. They found that such patients were twice as likely to lose one or the other sense as those who did not have higher-than-average levels of antibodies in their blood.

More information: Jonathan B. Overdevest et al, Chemosensory deficits are best predictor of serologic response among individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2, PLOS ONE (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274611

Journal information: PLoS ONE

© 2022 Science X Network

Citation: Loss of smell following COVID linked to a person's immune reaction to the infection (2022, December 15) retrieved 10 December 2023 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-12-loss-covid-linked-person-immune.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Long-lasting loss of smell, taste in 5% of COVID cases: study


Feedback to editors