J Rhinol > Epub ahead of print
Published online January 15, 2021.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.18787/jr.2020.00336    [Epub ahead of print]
Olfactory and Taste Dysfunction in Patients with Asymptomatic and Mildly Symptomatic COVID-19 in Korea
Jun Yeon Won1,2, Yoon Heo1, Tae Suk Kim3, Choong-Hyo Kim4, Woo Hyun Lee1
1Department of Otolaryngology, Kangwon National University Hospital, Chuncheon, Korea
2Department of Otolaryngology, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea
3Department of Internal Medicine, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea
4Department of Neurosurgery, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea
Correspondence: 
Woo Hyun Lee, Tel: +82-33-258-9109, Fax: +82-33-258-9486, Email: sniper212@hanmail.net
Received: 25 September 2020   • Revised: 18 October 2020   • Accepted: 19 October 2020
Abstract
Background and Objectives
The association between chemosensory dysfunction (CSD) and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to determine the incidence of olfactory and taste dysfunction in asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients with COVID-19 and to evaluate the symptoms associated with CSD in patients with COVID-19.
Materials and Method
On March 9, 2020, 309 patients with asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID-19 confirmed by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were admitted to the No. 7 Community Treatment Center in Korea. An internet-based survey about symptomatology was administered to these patients, with responses obtained from 244 (79.0%). Subjects who completed the survey were enrolled in this study and were categorized into either a CSD group or a normal chemosensory group based on the presence or absence of CSD, respectively.
Results
General symptoms, including fever, myalgia, and chills, were most common (29.1%), followed by upper respiratory tract infection (URI) symptoms (20.9%), CSD (20.5%), and nasal symptoms (13.5%). In patients with CSD (n=50), 10 (4.1%) reported no other symptoms. After adjustment for age, sex, past medical history, and other symptoms, general symptoms [odds ratio (OR), 3.63; confidence interval (CI), 1.70-7.76] and nasal symptoms (OR, 7.00; CI, 2.61-18.80) were significantly associated with CSD.
Conclusion
The incidence of CSD was relatively high (20.5%) in asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients with COVID-19. General symptoms were independent risk factors of CSD, suggesting a sensorineural mechanism for the observed olfactory and taste dysfunction.
Key Words: COVID-19SmellTasteAsymptomaticMildly symptomatic


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