More Than Smell-COVID-19 Is Associated With Severe Impairment of Smell, Taste, and Chemesthesis

Parma V, Ohla K, Veldhuizen MG, Niv MY, Kelly CE, Bakke AJ, Cooper KW, Bouysset C, Pirastu N, Dibattista M, Kaur R, Liuzza MT, Pepino MY, Schöpf V, Pereda-Loth V, Olsson SB, Gerkin RC, Rohlfs Domínguez P, Albayay J, Farruggia MC, Bhutani S, Fjaeldstad AW, Kumar R, Menini A, Bensafi M, Sandell M, Konstantinidis I, Di Pizio A, Genovese F, Öztürk L, Thomas-Danguin T, Frasnelli J, Boesveldt S, Saatci Ö, Saraiva LR, Lin C, Golebiowski J, Hwang LD, Ozdener MH, Guàrdia MD, Laudamiel C, Ritchie M, Havlícek J, Pierron D, Roura E, Navarro M, Nolden AA, Lim J, Whitcroft KL, Colquitt LR, Ferdenzi C, Brindha EV, Altundag A, Macchi A, Nunez-Parra A, Patel ZM, Fiorucci S, Philpott CM, Smith BC, Lundström JN, Mucignat C, Parker JK, van den Brink M, Schmuker M, Fischmeister FPS, Heinbockel T, Shields VD, Faraji F, Santamaría E, Fredborg WE, Morini G, Olofsson JK, Jalessi M, Karni N, D'Errico A, Alizadeh R, Pellegrino R, Meyer P, Huart C, Chen B, Soler GM, Alwashahi MK, Welge-Lüssen A, Freiherr J, de Groot JH, Klein H, Okamoto M, Singh PB, Hsieh JW, Reed DR, Hummel T, Munger SD, Hayes JE (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


Book Volume: 45

Pages Range: 609-622

Journal Issue: 7

DOI: 10.1093/chemse/bjaa041


Recent anecdotal and scientific reports have provided evidence of a link between COVID-19 and chemosensory impairments, such as anosmia. However, these reports have downplayed or failed to distinguish potential effects on taste, ignored chemesthesis, and generally lacked quantitative measurements. Here, we report the development, implementation, and initial results of a multilingual, international questionnaire to assess self-reported quantity and quality of perception in 3 distinct chemosensory modalities (smell, taste, and chemesthesis) before and during COVID-19. In the first 11 days after questionnaire launch, 4039 participants (2913 women, 1118 men, and 8 others, aged 19-79) reported a COVID-19 diagnosis either via laboratory tests or clinical assessment. Importantly, smell, taste, and chemesthetic function were each significantly reduced compared to their status before the disease. Difference scores (maximum possible change ±100) revealed a mean reduction of smell (-79.7 ± 28.7, mean ± standard deviation), taste (-69.0 ± 32.6), and chemesthetic (-37.3 ± 36.2) function during COVID-19. Qualitative changes in olfactory ability (parosmia and phantosmia) were relatively rare and correlated with smell loss. Importantly, perceived nasal obstruction did not account for smell loss. Furthermore, chemosensory impairments were similar between participants in the laboratory test and clinical assessment groups. These results show that COVID-19-associated chemosensory impairment is not limited to smell but also affects taste and chemesthesis. The multimodal impact of COVID-19 and the lack of perceived nasal obstruction suggest that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus strain 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection may disrupt sensory-neural mechanisms.

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Involved external institutions

Arizona State University (ASU) US United States (USA) (US) Medizinische Universität Wien AT Austria (AT) UC San Diego School of Medicine US United States (USA) (US) University of Padua / Universita degli Studi di Padova IT Italy (IT) University City Science Center US United States (USA) (US) Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) / University of Buenos Aires AR Argentina (AR) Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier FR France (FR) University of Tennessee (UTK) US United States (USA) (US) Guangzhou Medical University (GMU) / 广州医科大学 CN China (CN) Magna Græcia University of Catanzaro / Università degli studi Magna Græcia di Catanzaro IT Italy (IT) University of Hertfordshire GB United Kingdom (GB) Universidad de Extremadura ES Spain (ES) San Diego State University US United States (USA) (US) Hebrew University of Jerusalem IL Israel (IL) Université Fédérale de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées FR France (FR) Mersin Üniversitesi (MEÜ) TR Turkey (TR) University of Côte d'Azur / Université Côte d'Azur FR France (FR) Hospitalsenheden Vest DK Denmark (DK) Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIR-CSIO) IN India (IN) Forschungszentrum Jülich / Research Centre Jülich (FZJ) DE Germany (DE) University of Bari Aldo Moro / Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro IT Italy (IT) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign US United States (USA) (US) University of London GB United Kingdom (GB) Universitätsspital Basel CH Switzerland (CH) Helsingin yliopisto / University of Helsinki FI Finland (FI) Howard University US United States (USA) (US) Wageningen University & Research NL Netherlands (NL) University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) US United States (USA) (US) Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz AT Austria (AT) University of Tokyo JP Japan (JP) Hazrat Rasul Akram Hospital / بیمارستان حضرت رسول اکرم IR Iran, Islamic Republic of (IR) University of Queensland AU Australia (AU) University of Florida US United States (USA) (US) Institute for Research and Technology in Food and Agriculture / Cataluña Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA) ES Spain (ES) Technische Universität München (TUM) DE Germany (DE) Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCB) FR France (FR) Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences (KITS) / Karunya University IN India (IN) DreamAir LLC US United States (USA) (US) University College London (UCL) GB United Kingdom (GB) Stanford University US United States (USA) (US) IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center US United States (USA) (US) Aristotle University of Thessaloniki GR Greece (GR) Technische Universität Dresden DE Germany (DE) Towson University US United States (USA) (US) Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc (CHU St-Luc) BE Belgium (BE) Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) CA Canada (CA) Stockholm University / Stockholms universitet SE Sweden (SE) Oregon State University (OSU) US United States (USA) (US) Geneva University Hospitals / Hôpitaux universitaires de Genève (HUG) CH Switzerland (CH) Universidad Pública de Navarra ES Spain (ES) Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main DE Germany (DE) University of California Irvine US United States (USA) (US) Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l’Alimentation CSGA FR France (FR) Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA) IT Italy (IT) University of East Anglia GB United Kingdom (GB) Universiteit Utrecht (UU) / Utrecht University NL Netherlands (NL) Hadassah Medical Center / מרכז רפואי הדסה‎‎ IL Israel (IL) Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) US United States (USA) (US) Biruni University / Biruni Üniversitesi TR Turkey (TR) University of Oslo NO Norway (NO) Maastricht University NL Netherlands (NL) Temple University US United States (USA) (US) Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH) / مستشفى جامعة السلطان قابوس OM Oman (OM) Univerzita Karlova v Praze / Charles University in Prague CZ Czech Republic (CZ) Yale School of Medicine US United States (USA) (US) University of Insubria / Università degli Studi dell'Insubria IT Italy (IT) University of Reading GB United Kingdom (GB) University of Gastronomic Sciences / Università degli studi di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo IT Italy (IT) Universidad de Chile CL Chile (CL) University of Edinburgh GB United Kingdom (GB)

How to cite


Parma, V., Ohla, K., Veldhuizen, M.G., Niv, M.Y., Kelly, C.E., Bakke, A.J.,... Hayes, J.E. (2020). More Than Smell-COVID-19 Is Associated With Severe Impairment of Smell, Taste, and Chemesthesis. Chemical Senses, 45(7), 609-622.


Parma, Valentina, et al. "More Than Smell-COVID-19 Is Associated With Severe Impairment of Smell, Taste, and Chemesthesis." Chemical Senses 45.7 (2020): 609-622.

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