Phantosmia May Predict Long-Term Measurable Olfactory Dysfunction After COVID-19

Jai Sen Leung, Valentina Paz Cordano, Eduardo Fuentes-López, Antonia Elisa Lagos, Francisco Gustavo García-Huidobro, Rodrigo Aliaga, Luis Antonio Díaz, Tamara García-Salum, Erick Salinas, Adriana Toro, Claudio Andrés Callejas, Arnoldo Riquelme, James N. Palmer, Rafael A. Medina, Claudia González G

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: Persistent olfactory dysfunction (OD) after 6 months caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection has been reported with a variable prevalence worldwide. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of long-term OD and identify predisposing factors. Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted on 100 adults with COVID-19. Olfactory function was assessed with the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test and a symptom survey at the onset of disease and 30 days later. Patients with persistent quantitative OD at the second assessment were reevaluated after 1 year. Demographic variables, symptoms, and the degree of smell loss were analyzed. Results: Participants included 100 patients. The mean age was 42.2 ± 15.6 years, 55 (55%) were female, and 56 (56%) were outpatients. Baseline smell loss was identified in 75/100 (75%) patients, decreasing to 39/95 (40%) after 1 month, and persisting in 29 patients after 1 year. Phantosmia at baseline was the only risk factor identified for persistent OD after 1 year (relative risk 2.51; 95% confidence interval 1.53–4.12; p < 0.001). Regardless of the outcome in smell function, a significant decline in olfaction was associated with the presence of phantosmia at 1 month (β = −12.39; 95% CI −19.82 to −4.95; p < 0.01). Conclusions: SARS-CoV-2 (2019–2020 variants) produced a highly frequent OD that persisted in 29% of the patients after 1 year. The presence of phantosmia at baseline and 1 month was associated with a worse evolution, but phantosmia may interfere with the performance in an identification smell test. A longer follow-up is required in these patients. Level of Evidence: 2 Laryngoscope, 132:2445–2452, 2022.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2445-2452
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • COVID-19
  • anosmia
  • hyposmia
  • olfaction disorders


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