Background: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection represents a worldwide critical health burden from the sanitary perspective. This disease's symptoms range from a mild flu-like form to a severe life-threatening respiratory disease and respiratory failure. Several patients, however, remain paucisymptomatic. Among the symptoms that seem relevant are the changes in taste and smell, regardless of the disease's severity. Methods: Data from patients affected by COVID-19 infection, hospitalized from 15 to 29 April, 2020, were analyzed. Questionnaires about smell, taste, and nasal function were administered to all, and a proportion also received the Quick olfactory Sniffin’ Sticks Test (q-Sticks) to objectivate the presence of anosmia or hyposmia. The results of instruments and Q-Sticks were then compared. Results: Thirty-seven patients (20 males, 54.1%), with a mean age 0f 69.19 years (SD = 17.96; median 76, IQR: 63–82) were evaluated. Among the patients, 8 (22%) were asymptomatic. Out of the remaining 29 patients, 28 (97%) had fever, 19 (66%) asthenia, 11 (38%) dry cough, 10 (34%) dyspnea, and 6 (21%) gastroenteric symptoms. The q-Sticks test was performed on 27 patients and showed that 6 with anosmia, and 16 patients had hyposmia, where only 5 (14%) patients complained of loss of smell by conducting the questionnaires. Conclusion: Although olfactory disturbances may be secondary to other factors, a sudden onset of anosmia or hyposmia should be assessed as a possible symptom of COVID-19 infection. The use of questionnaires or anamnestic collection is sometimes not enough, while adding to them a simple test such as the q-Sticks test can provide more accurate and reliable data. A simple, easy-to-perform, and reliable tool (q-Sticks) for olfactory disorders assessment can be administered to identify the real size of anosmia in patients with COVID-19 infection and detect the early stage of infection or paucisymptomatic patients, therefore becoming important to reduce the spreading of the pandemic.
- Q-stick test
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine