Publication date: Sep 16, 2023
No studies have reported data on 3-year prevalence and recovery rates of self-reported COVID-19-related olfactory and gustatory dysfunction. The aim of the present study was to estimate the 3-year prevalence and recovery rate of self-reported COVID-19-related chemosensory dysfunction in a cohort of patients with antecedent mild COVID-19. This is a prospective observational study, measuring the prevalence of altered sense of smell or taste at follow-up and their variation from baseline, on adult patients consecutively assessed at Treviso and Trieste University Hospitals, who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by polymerase chain reaction during March 2020. Overall, out of 403 respondents, 267 patients (66. 3%) reported an altered sense of smell or taste (SNOT-22 > 0) at baseline, while 56 (13. 9%), 29 (7. 2%), and 21 (5. 2%) reported such alterations at 6-24 months, 2 years, and 3 years, respectively. Among the 267 patients with COVID-19-associated smell or taste dysfunction at baseline, 246 (92. 1%) reported complete resolution at 3 years. Of the patients who still experienced smell or taste dysfunction 2 years after COVID-19, 27. 6% and 37. 9% recovered completely and partially, respectively, at the 3-year follow-up. Among subjects with antecedent mildly symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, the 3-year prevalence and recovery rate of COVID-19-related alteration in sense of smell or taste was 5% and 92%, respectively. In approximately two-thirds of patients experiencing chemosensory dysfunction still 2 years after COVID-19, it is still possible to observe a delayed complete or partial recovery after a period of 3 years, while the remaining one-third of individuals continues to have unchanged persistent chemosensory alteration.