A new study estimates that more than 1 million people in the U.S. may not have regained their sense of smell months after falling ill with COVID-19.
JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery published new research Thursday that focused on COVID-19 patients who lost their sense of smell and taste after contracting the coronavirus.
The study estimates that between 700,000 and 1.6 million Americans who had the virus either lost or had a change in their sense of smell. For some, the change has lasted for more than six months.
Most of these people recover their sense of smell eventually, but the study suggests that some may never do so.
The study calls for more research into the long-term loss of a sense of smell, which researchers call “an emerging public health concern.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists “new loss of taste or smell” as one of the COVID-19 symptoms to watch for.
The CDC says the loss of smell or taste has been commonly reported, especially in women and younger or middle-aged patients.
Researchers noted that before the pandemic, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimated that among U.S. adults 40 years or older, up to 13.3 million adults experienced olfactory dysfunction (OD), which is a loss in the ability to smell. So, the addition of 700,000 to 1.6 million OD sufferers represents a significant increase.